CHRIS SEWARD - firstname.lastname@example.org
Former Hurricanes captain Rod Brind'Amour and his family watch as a banner is raised retiring his number before the game with the Philadelphia Flyers at the RBC Center in Raleigh.
RALEIGH -- Rod Brind'Amour wasn't sure how he would handle the emotion of having his jersey retired tonight, before a packed house at the RBC Center.
Would there be tears? Could he could find the right words, say the right things?
But Brind'Amour, nattily dressed in a dark suit and red tie, not his famed No. 17 jersey, was as well-prepared as he was for any game. He handled it with composure, without tears, coming out on the ice to a standing ovation and leaving to another.
Brind'Amour did don the jersey before the large No. 17 banner went up to the rafters, joining those of Ron Francis (No. 10) and Glen Wesley (No. 2). Brind'Amour and his family then watched the banner slowly go up in the north end of the RBC Center.
There was no shortage of No. 17 jerseys. Both the Canes and Flyers players were wearing No. 17 in his honor, at the ceremony and during pregame warmups.
"The banner that means the most to me, that means more than an individual banner, and obviously you know what I'm talking about, is the Stanley Cup championship," Brind'Amour said, looking up at the 2006 banner.
Brind'Amour thanked Canes fans for "willing us to victory" in the 2006 Stanley Cup finals against the Edmonton Oilers, noting the faithful stood for all of Game 7.
"You were not going to let the Stanley Cup out of this building," he said.
The Stanley Cup was back in the building tonight. The crowd roared as the Cup was brought out just before the banner raising, and while not getting his hands on it again, Brind'Amour gave it a long look, perhaps reflecting back to that June night in 2006 when the captain was the first to raise it over his head.
Brind'Amour thanked Flyers coach Peter Laviolette and assistant coach Kevin McCarthy, who both were behind the Canes bench in 2006. Brind'Amour noted he and Laviolette didn't see eye-to-eye when Laviolette first became coach in December 2003, but that he "helped me realize my dream."
Brind'Amour showed a bit of emotion at the end of his comments, before the banner raising, when he noted every player reaches a time in their career when "they can't jump over the boards again and get in the fight" with his teammates. He noted four players from the 2006 team -- Eric Staal, Cam Ward, Erik Cole and Chad LaRose -- still were playing for the Canes, saying that while he can no longer call them teammates, he can "always call them friends."
Before the ceremony, former Hurricanes teammate Bret Hedican and former Flyers teammates Keith Jones and Chris Therien were interviewed on the ice by Tripp Tracy, the Canes' TV analyst.
Each was asked to describe Brind'Amour in one word. Therien decided on "competitive" and Jones on "dedicated." Hedican, a member of the 2006 Stanley Cup champs, gave it a thought for a few seconds before saying, "Relentless."
Pretty much sums it up.