The ‘Canes legendary No. 17

By Andrew Jones
February 18, 2011

Raleigh, NC — Jerry West’s famous jump shot has long been the logo of the NBA. Rod Brind’Amour should be the face of the NHL.

Hockey players should have a look, and if sculpted based on what the sport reflects, you’d have to begin and end with Brind’Amour.

And on the evening the legendary forward’s No. 17 was retired by the Carolina Hurricanes, he saw fit to make a crack about his well-known nose Friday after a video of his career ran at the RBC Center prior to the Canes game versus the Philadelphia Flyers.

“It’s great to be able to look back and see all of the players I played with in the games,” Brind’Amour told the capacity crowd, wearing a dark suit with a red tie. “What stood out for me in that video was when I started my career; I actually had a straight nose I could breathe out of.”

Brind’Amour was known around the league for his chiseled physique, but his nose was more like a broken road map. But each ruffle, distortion, scar and bump reflects parts of a career that likely will find residence in the Hall of Fame.

On this night, however, his place was eternally etched into the fabric of a community that has come to embrace hockey, in large part because of Brind’Amour.

In his speech, Brind’Amour, who retired last June 30, noted the Research Triangle is a college sports “town” and the rabid fans that follow N.C. State, Duke and North Carolina sports, notably basketball. But he’s grateful to have played a role in bringing those bases together, as the Canes remarkably have.

“In a relatively small amount of time, there’s not too many people in this area who don’t know where the RBC Center is, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know who the Carolina Hurricanes are,” he told the crowd. “I’m really proud to be a small, small part of the growth and success of hockey in this area.”

Brind’Amour was joined by his wife, three children and his parents. Former teammate and good friend Bret Hedican flew in from California for the event. Also attending were the two other Hurricanes whose numbers have been retired: Glen Wesley (No. 2) and Hall of Famer Ron Francis (10).

The newest member of that elite club repeatedly mentioned the people and their community, which is where he makes his home year round. At one point, he thanked the “loudest and proudest hockey fans in the league.”

Born in Ottawa and raised in two small towns in British Columbia, Brind’Amour played collegiately at Michigan State.

His career began in St. Louis in 1988, where he played three seasons. From there, he spent nine seasons in nine seasons with the Flyers, where he scored 235 goals and totaled 601 points. During his time in Philadelphia, he played a team-record 484 consecutive games, a streak that ended because of a broken foot in late 1999.

A few weeks later, Brind’Amour was traded to the Hurricanes, where he wore No. 27 at first, but Jeff Daniel gave him No. 17 after that first season. He scored 174 goals with Carolina and finished with 473 points, which is second in club history. He’s also the club’s all-time leader in shorthanded goals (10) and finished with 60 power play goals for the Canes.

More importantly to Brind’Amour, who is regarded by those who played with him as the consummate teammate, is that he led Carolina to a pair of Stanley Cup Finals, winning it in 2006 when the Hurricanes defeated the Edmonton Oilers in seven games.

The image of Brind’Amour hoisting the Cup over his head on the ice has become part of sport’s lore in this college hotbed.

But it likely never would have happened without Brind’Amour’s legendary work ethic on and off the ice. Those in the sport say few have matched his dedication, and few respected their craft and the sport like Brind’Amour. Former teammates swear he never gave less than maximum effort.

Brind’Amour’s way of life was born out of a simple message from his father, who supported the family working as a pipe fitter.

“You better do something different from the next kid if you don’t want to do what I do for a living,” Brind’Amour said his father told him. “And from that moment on, I said I had to work harder than the next guy, and give it everything I have