Rod Brind'Amour's path to the NHL started back in his hometown of Campbell River, B.C., with some simple advice from his father.
"My dad had a pipefitter job, one of those tough jobs, and he always told me: 'You better do something different than the next kid, you don't want to end up doing what I have to do for a living,'" Brind'Amour recalled Tuesday on a conference call.
"Right from then on, I just said I've got to work harder than the next guy and at least give it everything I have."
It was an attitude that paid off big time during a NHL career that will be celebrated by the Carolina Hurricanes with the retirement of his No. 17 sweater on Friday night.
Very few, if any, ever worked harder than Brind'Amour on or off the ice.
"That was just kind of my mentality I guess when I played and when I trained," he said. "I really took it pretty serious pretty much every day I was a player in this league."
Fittingly, the Philadelphia Flyers will be visiting RBC Center when Brind'Amour is honoured.
He spent parts of nine seasons in Philadelphia before getting traded to Carolina in January 2000. He would never play for another NHL team.
In a classy gesture, Brind'Amour handed his captaincy over to Eric Staal midway through last season when it was clear the young forward had become the team's true leader. The transition was seemless.
"I can't point to one day or one situation that Rod Brind'Amour hasn't handled well," Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford said in an interview. "He's handled everything great—from the good times to the trying times."
After retiring in June, the 40-year-old accepted a front office job that has him working with the team's AHL prospects.
Raleigh, N.C., has become home for him after a rough beginning. He was devastated when the Flyers dealt him to Carolina for Keith Primeau in a blockbuster deal.
"The day I got traded from Philadelphia was one of the worst days of my career," said Brind'Amour. "Up until that point, I bled orange and black. It was an extremely tough time to leave that place because I loved it so much."
The best seasons of his career would come in Carolina, where he led the team to the Stanley Cup final twice (winning in 2006) and received the Selke Trophy in back-to-back years as the league's top defensive forward.
Initially, he wore No. 27 for the Hurricanes until Jeff Daniels gave him the No. 17 he had worn in Philadelphia.
No other player will ever don the number for the organization.
Brind'Amour acknowledges that he will forever be associated with the Hurricanes, something he couldn't have imagined when he joined the team at age 29.
"After winning that championship, that did it," he said. "I don't think there could have been a better way of going out. I think if I had won maybe before in Philadelphia things might have been different.
"But obviously when you win there's nothing greater than that. And there's no better way to be remembered."
Brind'Amour seems truly humbled by the honour—"I'm just grateful that I'm remembered at all to be honest with you," he said—even though it was never in doubt.
He retired as the Hurricanes franchise leader in points (473) and left behind a legacy that is now part of the lore of the organization.
"I can go on and on and on about this guy," said Rutherford. "What he did on the ice and off the ice, what a great person he is, but you don't have enough room in your article to write about all the things I could say about him.
"He's just been a great player and a real classy, respectful person for the Hurricanes organization from the day we got him until now."