RALEIGH — This column on the Hurricanes' Rod Brind'Amour and the Stanley Cup was originally published on June 20, 2006.
It was only right and fitting that Rod Brind'Amour was the first to lift the Stanley Cup.
The Carolina Hurricanes would never have won it without him.
Brind'Amour is the team captain. He was the one so disgusted after a Game 5 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, the one whose emotional words after the Canes' dismal 4-0 loss in Game 6 were just what his teammates needed to hear.
"Since Game 5, there was a great lump in my chest," Brind'Amour said Monday after the Canes clinched the Cup with a 3-1 victory. "I have just been feeling it. You know what is at stake.
"When you have so many that deserve it and you want it so bad, not just for yourself but for the guys sitting beside you, for your dad and your kids, guys who have been with you, your friends, there are so many people you are thinking about."
That's what Brind'Amour got off his chest after the embarrassment of Game 6 in Edmonton.
"He said something like we were glue, we had to stay like glue," defenseman Glen Wesley said. "Nobody ever wavered or doubted what we were capable of."
A leader both by word and deed, Brind'Amour scored some of the Hurricanes' biggest goals and gave all the biggest speeches. With the Canes on the verge of elimination three games into the playoffs and again in Game 7s in the final two rounds, Brind'Amour's leadership got the Canes' through.
"No question," forward Matt Cullen said. "Especially a guy like Roddy who ... is not a guy who says much - you could see the intensity in his eyes."
Brind'Amour was among the NHL leaders in playoff goals, and the timing of some was memorable. But while Brind'Amour's most dramatic contributions were on the ice, his most effective came far from the view of fans.
After Game 2 of the Montreal series, Brind'Amour spoke up. Before Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against Buffalo, he called a brief, players-only meeting.
"He has their ear, and that's when I back out of it," Laviolette said. "He has a powerful voice in the locker room and he carries his weight and that's a sign of a great captain and a great leader."
Brind'Amour backed up his talk. With the Canes down 2-0 to the Canadiens, he scored in the third period to send the game to overtime, where Eric Staal gave the Hurricanes the first of seven consecutive wins. In Game 7 against the Sabres, with the game tied 2-2 in the third period, Brind'Amour scored the game-winner.
In the first game of the finals, Brind'Amour was in the right place at the right time to capitalize on Oilers goalie Ty Conklin's miscue and win the game. After the last game, he was holding the Stanley Cup.