Rod Brind'Amour Awaits Flyers Hall of Fame Induction Night
One of the hardest-working players in Philadelphia Flyers franchise history will join the pantheon of team greats when Rod Brind'Amour is inducted on November 23, 2015 as the 24 member of the Flyers' Hall of Fame.
The two-way center, who also periodically played left wing during portions of the mid-1990s, spent 633 regular season games in a Flyers uniform among his career 1,484 games in the NHL. Brind'Amour produced 235 goals, 366 assists and 601 regular season points as a Flyer, adding 24 goals, 27 assists and 51 points in 57 playoffs games.
Although Brind'Amour had four seasons in Philadelphia in which he produced 33 or more goals (topping out at 37 goals in 1992-93) and six years with 74 or more points (with a high of 97 points in 1993-94), he was only the team's first line center in his first Flyer season; one year prior to the arrival of Eric Lindros.
Even more than for his point totals, Brind'Amour became best known for his incredible conditioning, ability to play a strong defensive as well as offensive game and for his durability. During his tenure, Brind'Amour set a still-standing franchise record with 484 consecutive games played.
"When I got to Philadelphia I didn’t really know what I was. It’s all about getting that chance to show what you can do and the Flyers gave me that chance and I kind of morphed into that player and probably because they brought in [Eric] Lindros, he didn’t need a number one center, he needed someone who could fit in the other role and I just kind of fell into that," Brind'Amour said.
"I was told also that if I wanted to play a lot and get on the ice a lot then I better be good at playing defense, killing penalties, and doing the other things because I was playing behind Eric Lindros and so when I came here (to Carolina) and I had to play behind Ron Francis, then we drafted Eric Staal so it was kind of good thing that I had that in my game. I don’t know if we will ever see that again.”
Roderic Jean Brind'Amour was born in Ottawa Ontario on August 9, 1970 but raised in Prince Rupert and Campbell River, British Columbia. After attending the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame boarding school in Wilcox, Sask., and playing hockey for the famed Notre Dame Hounds hockey program (which has produced a host of future NHL players), Brind'Amour was recruited to attend a play hockey for Michigan State University.
The Flyers both coveted Brind'Amour and Teemu Selänne in the 1988 NHL Draft but general manager Bob Clarke was unable to work a trade to move up into the top 10 of the selection order. The team wound up taking power forward hopeful Claude Boivin with the 14th overall pick after Brind'Amour went ninth overall to the St. Louis Blues and Selänne went 10th to the Winnipeg Jets.
Even as a young player, Brind'Amour's work ethic and intensity stood out. A devotee to weight lifting who was almost fanatical about matters of diet and exercise, no one outworked Brind'Amour either in the gym or on the ice.
"It just instilled to me as a kid that I wanted to make the NHL or just to be good at it as a hockey player I knew that I had to do more than the next kid," Brind'Amour recalled. "The one thing I could control was how hard I worked. I just never wanted to leave anything on the table, so I just always found myself kind of finding the hardest working player and trying to make sure I was working harder than him.”
Brind'Amour turned professional at the end of his freshman year at Michigan State. As a rookie with St. Louis, Brind'Amour enjoyed a highly successful 1989-90 campaign, producing 26 goals and 61 points in 79 regular season games and then averaging more than a point per game (five goals, 13 points) in 12 playoff matches. The next year, however, Brind'Amour had a down year (17 goals, 49 points) and rather inexplicably fell out of favor with the Blues.
Brind'Amour unexpectedly became available in trade in 1991, by which time Russ Farwell had taken over the Flyers' general manager post. Farwell pounced on the opportunity to land Brind'Amour, although the cost was steep. On Sept. 22, 1991, Philadelphia dealt team captain Ron Sutter and sturdy defensive defenseman Murray Baron to the Blues. In return the Flyers obtained Brind'Amour and offensively skilled but one-dimensional forward Dan Quinn.
"It was stunning for me, because at the time I was just a 21 year old kid and you take trades personal when you’re young, you think something is wrong with you," Brind'Amour said.
"So I was honestly nervous and the whole nine yards, but coming to Philadelphia was the best place I could come to, especially in the time that I did. I think we were kind a of a transitioning team at the time and it was just great for a young player cause there was opportunity and that’s what you hope for with any player.”
The deal quickly turned out to be one of the best trades of an otherwise dark era in Flyers hockey.
Brind'Amour earned a spot in the 1992 NHL All-Star Game, which was played at the Philadelphia Spectrum. That year, he scored 33 goals and 77 points in 80 games and won the Bobby Clarke Trophy as the team's MVP.
The Flyers valued Brind'Amour so highly that they made him untouchable in any of the various trade packages being discussed with the Quebec Nordiques for the rights to Eric Lindros. The Nords asked, but Farwell's answer was always no when it came to including either Recchi or Brind'Amour in a multi-piece deal for Lindros. Everyone else was available.
The Flyers' vision of building around a Lindros and Brind'Amour tandem ultimately contributed to the Flyers reluctantly parting with top prospect Peter Forsberg in the Lindros trade. For Philly, it ultimately came down to whether they preferred to wait for Forsberg, who did not plan to come over to North America for at least another year (two years, as it turned out), or to have the services of a Lindros and Brind'Amour one-two punch at center right away.
Ultimately, Forsberg made his NHL debut for the Quebec Nordiques in the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season. Brind'Amour would spend much of his Flyers career being mentioned in a variety of trade rumors but he always ended up staying put until he was finally traded in January 2000.
Lindros' arrival in Philadelphia put an end to Brind'Amour's brief stint as the team's first line center. However, for the rest of his tenure in Philly, Brind'Amour became one of the NHL's best second-line forwards and he typically moved up to the top line whenever Lindros missed time with injuries. Brind'Amour went on to set a Flyers' iron man streak of 484 consecutive games played.
In his third season with the Flyers, Brind'Amour enjoyed his career-best offensive season. That year, he compiled 35 goals and 97 points while primarily centering a line with Kevin Dineen and assorted left wingers. Although never known as a naturally gifted goal scorer, Brind'Amour had four seasons in Philly in which he scored 33 or more goals.
"I think what I had wasn’t linemates that I stuck with. I don’t want to say the second tier guys, but my line bounced around a lot. I always loved playing with Kevin, I think it was my first year there, he’s a really great guy obviously and then as far teammates, Mark Recchi, even when he ended up down here in Carolina to help win the Stanley Cup, he had a kid the same age as mine. So I wouldn’t say that I had a linemate or one player, there’s a host of players that I obviously enjoyed being around," Brind'Amour said.
One of the physically strongest players in the NHL of the 1990s to 2000s, the muscular Brind'Amour also gained a reputation as one of the league's top two-way centers and top faceoff men. When requested to do so, he shifted to left wing during his Flyers years, but clearly preferred to play center.
The Flyers made heavy use of Brind'Amour in all game situations. He could be called upon to kill penalties or protect narrow leads late in games in addition to serving on the power play and being used in the offensive zone.
Perhaps the crowning moments of his Flyers came in the clinching game of the 1997 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Brind'Amour sent the crowd in a frenzy and put the Flyers firmly in control of Game Five by scoring two shorthanded goals on the same penalty kill.
The Flyers ultimately reached the Stanley Cup Final before losing in four straight games to the Detroit Red Wings.
"Obviously, talking about the [Eric] Lindros thing that kind of transformed our team as far as now all of sudden people were watching us, even when we were a pretty young team. Then the pieces just started falling in around it we made a couple more good trades and I just thought that for me the biggest regret I think I ever had in playing in Philadelphia was we didn’t win, because definitely I wish they would have kept it together and I think even after going to the cup finals there were many tough guys, but they brought in a bunch of new players and I think that kind of disrupted the chemistry a little bit. But we were a very good team and I think we had a lot of good years left in us if we had stayed together," Brind'Amour said.
Brind'Amour frequently played left wing or moved down to the third line when the Flyers acquired Chris Gratton in 1997. He wasn't happy about being shuttled around the lineup, but did as he was asked and produced a 36-goal, 74-point season. The next year, the Flyers reinstalled Brind'Amour as the second-line center and moved Gratton to left wing. Gratton scored only one goal in 26 games before being traded back to the Tampa Bay Lightning along with Mike Sillinger in exchange for Mikael Renberg and Daymond Langkow.
Brind'Amour generated a 24-goal, 74-point season in 1998-99, which proved to be his final full season in Philadelphia. His iron man streak came to an end the following season, as a fractured foot suffered before the start of the 1999-2000 season required surgery and kept him out of the line for the first 34 games of the season.
“I think that’s kind of what playing in Philadelphia is all about. There’s that some mystique or standard or what it is, but we finally got there and you played through injuries, you played tough, that’s what Flyers do and that was kind of how I approached it and it probably what ended up getting me traded, though, "Brind Amour recalled.
"If you really break it down, because I kind of bent my foot in a preseason game, and me trying to keep the streak alive I kind of pushed it way too soon to get back and my foot ended up being way worse than it would have been. If I would have just missed the first week of the season and got healthy I probably would have come right back in there, but the injury happened cause I did try to get back into that streak, and who knows I was out for three months, and then ended up getting traded so it’s interesting how things work out.
“It was from that and then I actually re-broke it when I got down here and I played here. But it was always a lingering kind of pain. That whole thing was exacerbated, it’s all good now, but I think that’s what was my demise in Philadelphia, was that injury, who knows?"
On January 23, 2000, the Flyers traded the 29-year-old Brind'Amour to Carolina in the deal that brought Keith Primeau to Philly. The trade also sent goaltending prospect Jean-Marc Pelletier and a 2000 second-round pick (Argis Saviels) to Carolina and a 2000 fifth-round pick (later traded to the New York Islanders and used on the selection of Kristofer Ottosson) to the Flyers.
"I think honestly I was just really disappointed to be traded from Philadelphia. It took me awhile to get over it, but I should have known better; it’s hockey," Brind'Amour said.
"I had been traded once before and I was really tight with a lot of the players and those guys played there their whole career and I felt like personally that’s kind of what I wanted to do. I wanted to stay there, but I was trying to do the right thing and be a Flyer, but then I got traded. There was no animosity; I understand the business side of it."
Brind'Amour spent the remainder of his career with the Hurricanes and went on to capture a Stanley Cup as the Canes captain on the Peter Laviolette-coached 2005-06 team. After a rough start to their player-coach relationship, Brind'Amour eventually bonded with Laviolette.
For many years, Rod Brind'Amour was one of the NHL's most underrated players because he so frequently (and understandably) took a backseat to Lindros in his Philly days. It was only in his final couple years in Carolina that people leaguewide started to realize just how good his career was in many different aspects of the game.
Brind'Amour has already had his number 17 retired by the Hurricanes and was honored in a special ceremony on Feb. 11, 2011 on a night chosen to coincide with the Flyers (then coached by Laviolette) playing the Canes in Raleigh. Four years later, Brind'Amour will join the Flyers' Hall of Fame and finally get his chance to thank the Flyers' fans and to bask in their appreciation for his career.
"The reason you’re getting up in front of these or having this honor is to thank people and for me it’s just great because I left Philadelphia and it kind of felt kind of weird, one day I was there and then I was gone and that was it," Brind'Amour said.
"I never got the chance to thank the people that meant so much to me there, so this is kind of a long time coming for that but it is great for me to do be able to thank the people that made Philadelphia great for me.”
Today, Brind'Amour serves as an assistant coach for the Hurricanes. Along with his wife, Amy, he has a son named Brooks. From his first marriage, Brind'Amour has a daughter named Briley and sons named Skyler and Reece.