RALEIGH, N.C. — Rod Brind’Amour helped deliver the greatest moment in Carolina Hurricanes‘ history — a Stanley Cup championship.
His next challenge is to create more memorable moments as their coach.
The captain of the Hurricanes’ 2006 Cup-winning team has his first head coaching job in the NHL, taking the next step in a career arc that during the past 18 years has brought him from team leader all the way up the coaching ladder — and all with Carolina.
“It’s a job, but it’s not,” Brind’Amour said Wednesday. “It means more to me.”
The Hurricanes gave Brind’Amour a three-year contract, with team owner Tom Dundon declining to discuss the financial terms. But Dundon did praise Brind’Amour for his willingness to put his reputation on the line while trying to things around. Carolina hasn’t made the playoffs since 2009, a nine-year drought that ranks among the longest in NHL history.
“He didn’t need the job,” Dundon said. “He’s got a good life here, he’s well respected and the risk that he’s taking with his reputation and his legacy is real.”
The Hurricanes have changed coaches three times and general managers twice since their last post-season appearance. Another of the franchise’s greats — Hall of Fame player Ron Francis, like Brind’Amour a former team captain — was stripped of the GM’s job during the season and last week had his contract terminated.
Brind’Amour said Dundon and team president Don Waddell, who also added the title of general manager during the shake-up, have “high expectations, which is huge.
“For whatever reason, our expectations have fallen a little bit here, and we need to raise those,” he added.
He also wants to raise the effort level from the players, pledging to push them in much the same way he pushed his teammates during his time as team captain.
“We have a lot of guys in that room that need to give more,” he said. “I think there’s more there. … They didn’t produce the way they could produce. … We’re going to demand more from our players, at the end of the day, and I think they want that.”
That’s an approach that helped turn the Hurricanes into winners before, and now he wants to see if it will work again.
Brind’Amour came in Carolina in January 2000 in a trade with Philadelphia — and never left. He helped lead the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup final in 2002, ascended to the captaincy before the 2005-06 season and ended that year by becoming the first Carolina player to hoist the Cup — in the process, creating the franchise’s signature image that remains on display throughout PNC Arena.
“There are guys that wear the C,” former teammate Aaron Ward said, “and there are guys that ARE the C.”
The two-time Selke Award winner as the NHL’s best defensive forward retired in 2010 and ranks third in club history in assists (299), fourth in points (473) and fifth in games played (694). His post-playing career began in a front-office position — director of forwards development — but became an assistant coach in 2011, first for Paul Maurice, then Kirk Muller and Bill Peters — who opted out of the final year of his contract, creating the opportunity for Brind’Amour.
“I actually remember asking (then-GM Jim Rutherford) at the time, ‘Hey, put me upstairs with you,’ and he kept pushing me down” toward a future in coaching, Brind’Amour said. “It’s the closest thing to playing. … You’re in the fight with the guys. I felt like it’s something I have a passion for, and the more I got into it … I wanted to take a chance on taking charge. I stuck my neck out, and here we are.”