RALEIGH—Rod Brind'Amour didn't want to leave Philadelphia. But now he will always be remembered as a Carolina Hurricane.
Disinclined to talk about himself in that way that so many Canadian players from small towns are, the former team captain nonetheless found words to express how he felt retiring in red and white rather than orange and black in a conference call with reporters earlier this week.
“After winning that  championship… that did it. I don’t think there could have been a better way of going out. I think that if there’d been one maybe before, with Philadelphia, things might have been different. But, obviously, when you win, there’s nothing greater than that. There’s no better way to be remembered."
"I know I’ll be remembered as a Hurricane, and that image of me getting to hold that cup… That’s something that, around here, is quite etched in stone. You know, this is my home now. I’m just grateful that I’m remembered at all, honestly.”
As long as there's a sheet of ice in Raleigh, no one will forget the iconic image of Brind'Amour holding the Stanley Cup over his head. The way he shoved the trophy straight up into the air captured the sheer emotion of triumph, exhaustion, and catharsis of that moment.
He expressed something of a vindication, as well, for Raleigh's legitimacy as a hockey town. Once a franchise wins a Stanley Cup and has the names of all that team's players engraved on that trophy, they cross over into legendary territory. It was as if Brind'Amour had dragged all of Caniac Nation onto an icy mountaintop.
As the National Hockey League slowly reinvents itself through rule changes and marketing moves such as the All-Star Game fest recently hosted in Raleigh, perhaps they should consider using the silhouette of Brindy hoisting the Stanley Cup in the league's logo, a la Jerry West's running dribble for the National Basketball Association.
Brind'Amour's number 17 will never be worn by another Hurricanes player, but that' not the number he started off in when he came here.
“When I got traded from St. Louis to Philadelphia, I think I had a choice of 10 or 17. There weren’t too many options. I came over with Dan Quinn and he wanted 10, so it kind of fell into my lap, is the best way I could put it. I got here and Jeff Daniels was wearing 17. I thought about wearing number 11—I actually even called Kevin Dineen, because he had worn it right before I got here. I didn’t wear it—I wore number 27. But Jeff Daniels ended up giving me 17 the next year.”
Although his heroics in his decade with the Hurricanes have ultimately defined his career, Brind'Amour talked about how much his time in Philadelphia meant to him as well.
“I loved my time in Philadelphia. There are certain players who’ve played in that city who’ve really done well, and I think I was one of them. I’ve said this many times—the day I got traded from Philadelphia was one of the worst days of my career. Up until that point, I bled orange and black. It was an extremely tough time for me, to leave that place, because I loved it so much. They’ve got tremendous, loyal fans there. Every player, there’s a list of a couple teams they wish they could play on, and Philadelphia’s always at the top of that list.”
Now Brindy's number 17 will hang at the top of the RBC Center, next to Glen Wesley's number 2 and Ron Francis' number 10.