Jim Rutherford has made a number of savvy trades over the years but it's hard to argue that when he traded Keith Primeau to the Philadelphia Flyers to acquire Rod Brind`Amour, that had to be the best.
Brind'Amour went on be a franchise leader in many categories, (while in Carolina), and of course ended up captaining his team to a Stanley Cup win. Can you ask for much more than that?
Well even if you can, Brind`Amour is still delivering.
Everywhere you look today, you will find outstanding articles about this one-of-kind player who is having his jersey retired tonight. Paul Branecky has a five part tribute on CH.com, Mike Sundheim provides his insight here, Bob Sutton from the Burlington Times News also has an article, Chip Alexander has his take here, Luke DeCock's input is at this link, and our friends from the Hurricanes Beat also provide their unique perspective.
Finally, Cory has a tremendous article at SBN Hockey.
I can't really add anything fruitful to what has already been said, but I can share with you some of my favorite memories and a few personal thoughts.
From day one when the trade was announced, I was ecstatic. How could Rutherford pry away a player like Brind'Amour from Philadelphia? Flyers fans were beside themselves and many would not forgive GM Bobby Clarke for years after the deal.
That's not to say that Keith Primeau was a bad player. He led the Canes in scoring the previous season and was team captain, but contract negotiations between Carolina management and Primeau's camp deteriorated so badly that Primeau said to the press that he would not play in Carolina for any amount of money.
He sat out for a good part of the next season to prove it. So Rutherford traded a player who refused to play for his team and a 5th round draft pick to the Flyers for a blood and guts warrior who could score, play defense, win faceoffs, and who gave 110% every time he was on the ice. (The Flyers also included Jean-Marc Pelletier, and a 2nd round draft pick.)
Even though Brind'Amour came to Carolina as damaged goods because he was recovering from a broken foot, I never heard a single fan complain about that deal.
So over the years, the legend grew in Carolina and a love affair developed between the player and local fans. The 2002 playoffs were huge and Brind'Amour made several major contributions. But I'll never forget one of his interviews after the team lost to Detroit in the Stanley Cup Finals. Brind'Amour seemed more upset for disappointing fans, (and his neighbors), than he was for himself.
When Ron Francis retired, Brind'Amour was the natural choice to be next captain, that was a no-brainer. Once again, as much as fans can disagree about a variety of things, I never heard any questions or grumbling about that move.
He had some ups and downs over the years, but he never gave up. And after a couple of injury filled, disappointing seasons in 2002-03 and 2003-04, he came back with a vengeance in 2005-06 with 31 goals and 39 assists. During the playoffs, he sometimes seemed like a player possessed.
While Cam Ward won the Conn Smythe, Brind'Amour certainly made a strong case for himself.
Time after time, it seemed like he would score the crucial goal, or make a key play to turn the momentum. When someone needed to step up, he would do it. And when someone needed to speak up, he also handled that.
It was so fitting when he finally lifted the Cup, like it was meant to be. For those of us fortunate enough to witness it in person, it was a moment when many of us shed some tears and a moment we'll never forget.
Tonight, as two teams and two franchises honor his accomplishments, his jersey number will be immortalized, lifted to the rafters for generations to see. Again, another fitting moment. A moment to remember.
As much as fans can sometimes complain and media can sometimes criticize, tonight is a time to celebrate and remember the good times.
It's also a time to say thank you to a great player and a great person for everything he's done for his team, his franchise, and his community. Thanks Rod!
Note: the ceremony starts promptly at 7 tonight. Here are the details.
I found some You Tubes with Brindy included that some of you might not have seen before or might like to see again.
Here is the link for the even more entertaining 90 second version
Happy Days With some Brindy dancing
Brind'Amour speech after winning Cup