The Carolina Hurricanes honored the captain of their only Stanley Cup championship team Friday night by retiring Rod Brind’Amour’s jersey No. 17.
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The Hurricanes paid tribute to Brind’Amour before their game against the Philadelphia Flyers by raising a banner bearing his name and number into the RBC Center rafters.
The banner-raising capped a moving 35-minute ceremony in which Brind’Amour thanked his teammates, coaches and fans, and called the number retirement ”the ultimate honor,” but said he’s most proud of bringing the Cup to Raleigh in 2006.
”From when I started, what I saw when I (arrived in Raleigh in 2000) until now, it’s a huge difference,” Brind’Amour told reporters during the first intermission. ”I’m proud of that. The people feel the same — they’re proud of what we’ve done. It’s been a give-and-take that I don’t think you see in other places.”
Brind’Amour, a popular two-time Selke Trophy winner as the NHL’s best defensive forward, played 21 seasons with St. Louis, Philadelphia and Carolina before moving into the Hurricanes’ front office as their director of forwards development.
He joined Ron Francis (No. 10) and Glen Wesley (No. 2) as the only other Hurricanes with their numbers retired.
Brind’Amour retired as the Hurricanes’ leading scorer since the franchise moved from Hartford in 1997 with 473 points in 10 seasons — a mark that has since been passed by Eric Staal. He finished his career with 452 goals and 732 assists in 1,484 regular-season games over 21 seasons in the NHL.
He also had 51 goals and 60 assists in 159 career playoff games, and scored 12 goals while captaining the Hurricanes’ run to their only Stanley Cup in 2006 for coach Peter Laviolette — now the Flyers’ coach.
The image of Brind’Amour kissing and then hoisting the Cup while screaming with joy stands among the most memorable in club history. Near the end of the ceremony, the former captain and the Cup were reunited briefly — though, in keeping with hockey superstition, he didn’t touch it this time.
”I got a text before I went out (telling him to pick it up), ‘One more time,”’ Brind’Amour said. ”I didn’t want to do that. I did it once, and it was because I earned it. I didn’t want to do it just for show.”
Brind’Amour inherited the captain’s ”C” on his sweater from Francis in 2005 and wore it until January 2010, when he yielded it to Staal and stepped back to become an alternate captain.
He played a substantial part in the pregame ceremonies a few weeks ago before the All-Star game – with children acting out an old-fashioned way to choose up teams, throwing sticks in the middle and having a captain pick them out one at a time. One selection drew Brind’Amour out of the shadows.
The noted workout warrior — he picked up the nickname ”Rod the Bod” — came back from a serious knee injury in February 2008 and missed only four games during the two seasons after that.
There were plenty of reminders of the former Carolina captain throughout the arena, where the corner boards bore 17s and both the Hurricanes and Flyers wore Brind’Amour jerseys during the ceremony and during pregame warmups.
”It’s special. … I played my other half of my career” with the Flyers, Brind’Amour said. ”That town and that team meant a lot to me, and the organization did, so it was nice that they chose this night to make that happen.”