Rod Brind'Amour isn't saying goodbye.
A goodbye to the NHL and his playing days, yes. But not to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Brind'Amour said today that he would retire from the NHL after 21 seasons, ending a career highlighted by the winning of the 2006 Stanley Cup, a career that could one day put him into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Brind'Amour, a former team captain who spent the last 10 years with the Hurricanes, will remain with the organization in a front-office position still to be defined.
"I'm here to say that I will no longer be playing hockey for the Hurricanes here or for any one else," Brind'Amour said at a Tuesday press conference. "I feel very, very fortunate to have played as long as I have. And I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity that's been been given to me over the years with this organization as a player. I look forward to working with the team in the future."
The Hurricanes and Brind'Amour have wrestled with a decision on his future since the end of the season. Brind'Amour, who turns 40 on Aug. 9, had one year remaining on a contract signed after the '06 Cup run that would pay him $3 million next season. Under the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Hurricanes had the option of buying out that final year for $2 million, which is what Brind'Amour will make in the settlement, split over the next two years in addition to a salary with the team, general manager Jim Rutherford said in a teleconference shortly after Brind'Amour's press conference.
Brind'Amour said the final decision was made Tuesday night, when Rutherford informed him of the team's decision, Brind'Amour said after the press conference. This morning, Rutherford called him again to make it clear that the team wanted him to remain a part of the organization in some role. For Brind'Amour, the decision to retire was made once he realized continuing his career might have to come with another team.
"I didn't have any intention of going anywhere else," he said.
Of the time, Rutherford said: "We had a lot of talks within the organization. Several people had input in this. At a point after the season, after the exit meetings, I had a meeting with Rod. I ended up having two or three between the exit meeting and now. Just walking through this, it didn't seem that it made enough sense to go forward as a player when he has a lot to offer the front office."
Rutherford later said in the teleconference he didn't think all sides felt good about the decision until this morning.
Brind'Amour's final NHL numbers are impressive by any standard. He played in 1,484 regular-season games, with 452 goals and 732 assists (1,184 points). In 159 playoff games, he had 51 goals and 60 assists.
In the 2006 playoffs, Brind'Amour was at his best. A two-time Selke Award winner as the league's best defensive forward, he contributed in every conceivable fashion: defensively, scoring key goals, winning faceoffs, performing superbly on the power play and penalty kill.
Brind'Amour was traded to the Hurricanes from the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 23, 2000, and helped the Canes reach the Stanley Cup final in 2002. He was named team captain in August 2005 and served as captain until this past season, when the captaincy was passed to Eric Staal.
While the last two seasons have been a struggle at times for Brind'Amour, they probably will quickly be forgotten. But the look of satisfaction and ecstasy on Brind'Amour's face as he raised the Stanley Cup in 2006 at the RBC Center will forever be an indelible moment in franchise history and will be lasting in the minds of Hurricanes fans.
After the cup was captured, the team rewarded him with a five-year, $18 million deal.
"I knew that when we won the cup, I had no problem signing Rod to a five-year contract because I knew how he took care of himself," Rutherford said. "But at the same time I knew that he may not get all the way through that. And I do think that his knee injury set him back a little bit. It wasn't something that anybody saw coming. It was a major knee injury and he still did some good things for us after that, but he wasn't as good as he was prior to the knee injury."
Brind'Amour's 2007-08 season was cut short by a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
"If he didn't have it, he may very well still be playing," Rutherford said.
He said he wasn't sure if winning the cup made it easier to retire but added, "From a career standpoint, there's nothing left to do."
Brind'Amour said his future role with the team hasn't been defined, and that he plans on staying put and keeping his family here in North Carolina.
"Everyone knows how this is a great area to live, but it's because of the people that are here in this area," he said. "It's my home and I'm proud to say it's my home. I'm very, very appreciative that the team has offered me a position to help them in some capacity going forward."
Those having any special memories of Brind'Amour are invited to contribute on Canes Now.