RALEIGH, N.C. – Rod Brind’Amour is retiring after 21 NHL seasons to take an unspecified front-office job with the Carolina Hurricanes.
The team’s former captain said Wednesday that his decision was made simpler after he talked with general manager Jim Rutherford and they decided the aging veteran wouldn’t fit with the Hurricanes’ rebuilding plan.
Trying to find a roster spot on another team “never, ever felt right,” he said, and Rutherford asked him to remain with the organization in some capacity.
“The only question would be how much do I want to play” for another team, Brind’Amour said. “When I knew for sure the direction the team was going and I wasn’t going to be a part of it as a player, and (Rutherford) said, ‘We want you to come on and do whatever—we’ll figure that out. Just be a part of our organization.’
“I said, ‘I’m done. It’s over,'” he added. “I don’t want to go play anymore, and certainly don’t want to play anywhere else.”
Brind’Amour would have made US$3 million in 2010-11, the final year of his contract. The Hurricanes had the option to buy out his contract for $2 million, and Rutherford said they will pay him $1 million this year and $1 million next year, in addition to the salary for his new job.
The GM said Brind’Amour is getting married in a few weeks, and after he returns from his honeymoon, the two will sit down to figure out what his new responsibilities will be.
“This is not just a gift to him at this point in his career,” Rutherford said. “I feel very strongly that Rod’s got a lot to offer the Hurricanes, as he’s already done.”
The decision wasn’t entirely unexpected. The captain of Carolina’s 2006 Stanley Cup championship team, Brind’Amour turns 40 in August. Nearly three months ago, he wrapped up his worst statistical season in which he yielded his captaincy to Eric Staal and slipped to the team’s fourth line.
The Hurricanes’ leading scorer since the franchise moved from Hartford in 1997, Brind’Amour had just nine goals and 10 assists last season.
He finished his career with 452 goals and 732 assists in 1,484 regular-season games over 21 years with St. Louis, Philadelphia and Carolina. Additionally, he had 51 goals and 60 assists in 159 career playoff games, and scored 12 goals during the Hurricanes’ run to their only Cup.
The noted workout warrior came back from a serious knee injury in February 2008 and missed only four games during the two seasons after that.
With the Hurricanes’ youth movement taking root, it seemed a sensible time to call it a career for the popular, two-time Selke Trophy winner and reliable force in the face-off circle who came to Carolina in a trade with Philadelphia in 2000.
Brind’Amour inherited the captain’s “C” on his sweater from Ron Francis in 2005 and wore it until January, when he stepped back to become an alternate captain.
“When we first came (to North Carolina), people used to ask me what we’re doing here,” Rutherford said. “Now, it’s a legitimate major-league sports town and a hockey town. … Two key guys here, when you talk about the growth of hockey in North Carolina, were the two captains.
“We all saw what he did as a player, but there were so many things he did away from the arena, and part of that was growing the sport.”
Brind’Amour joins Glen Wesley, Tom Barrasso and Francis as former Carolina players who recently have taken management positions in the organization.
The announcement came a day before the start of the NHL’s free agency signing period. The Hurricanes dealt most of their pending free agents before the trading deadline in March, and the only regular who could leave is 38-year-old forward Ray Whitney.
“There’s a time frame of July 1 to get a lot of things done,” Brind’Amour said. “It doesn’t really change my decision. To me, once they were sure how they were going, and I wasn’t going to be a part of it next year, then that made the decision for me.”