RALEIGH — In the wide, wide world of hockey, if it was to be done, Rod Brind'Amour did it. Top to bottom, good to bad, glorious to mundane, domestic to international, Brind'Amour didn't miss a thing.
He led his team in scoring, and he was a healthy scratch. He played in the Stanley Cup finals and lost. He played in the Stanley Cup finals and won. He captained a team to the Stanley Cup and played on one that finished dead last in the NHL. He played in one of the league's most fevered markets with the Philadelphia Flyers and saw a small one grow from almost nothing to what it is today with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Olympics? Check. He played for Team Canada in 1998 in Nagano, Japan. World Cup? Check, 1996. World Championships? Check. Won gold in Italy in 1994, Canada's first title since 1961. All-Star Game? Check. 1992, on home ice at the Philadelphia Spectrum. A major award? Check. The Selke Trophy, twice, in 2006 and 2007.
He scored on his first shot in his first NHL game. He played in 1,000 games, recorded 1,000 points. He played in a Frozen Four in his one season at Michigan State and won Canadian championships in junior and youth hockey. He was even awarded a medal for his charity work on behalf of the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Now, as Brind'Amour's No. 17 is retired by the Hurricanes tonight, he can say with confidence that he has no regrets, no boxes left unchecked, no holes in his hockey résumé.
"I didn't get to do a lot of all these things, but enough to know what it's all about, and experience everything," Brind'Amour said. "I don't know what else there was that could have happened in my career."
Really, what's missing?
He never played in a Canadian city, never got a chance to play for the Vancouver Canucks, the closest team to the small British Columbia town where he grew up. Doesn't matter to him at all. Not an itch he ever felt the need to scratch
Even the lack of another Stanley Cup, as much as he would have liked to win another, doesn't bother him, not the way he won his first and the people he won it with.
"It couldn't have gotten any better," Brind'Amour said. "It would have been super to do it again, unreal to get another one. But it couldn't have been any better."
Now that the Hurricanes have awarded him their highest honor, the only question left in Brind'Amour's career is whether the game of hockey will award him its highest honor, membership in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
In the hockey world, opinions span the spectrum on his chances. Some feel he's a good player, a great leader and teammate, but not one of the game's all-time greats. Others see him as a borderline candidate, worthy of inclusion but not atop the list of those awaiting induction.
For others, he's a lock, and there's a solid statistical case to be made. He ranks 46th all-time in scoring, 16th in games played and has the two Selke trophies to go with one strong intangible: one of the more memorable Stanley Cup ceremonies in recent memory.
When he nearly yanked the Cup out of Gary Bettman's hands, it created the kind of indelible image that can sway the notoriously fickle and inscrutable Hall of Fame voters.
Whatever the Hall of Fame decides, that scene is forever etched on the minds of Hurricanes fans and hockey fans elsewhere alike. In a career full of accomplishments, that moment will linger the longest.