Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 05/28/09 at 06:55 PM ET
For most of this season and especially during the postseason, I’ve been pretty vocal about Rod Brind’Amour. I’ve said countless times and in a number of ways that I wish he would retire this summer. There are a lot of things that need to be resolved this summer. Although Brindy is still under contract through the 2010-11 season, many Caniacs think that Brind’Amour should call it a day. Just two days after the Hurricanes’ playoff season ended, the captain announced that he will NOT be retiring.
“I made a commitment a while ago to play and I’ve got a contract to play it out. So it’s definitely what the plan is… Personally you have to believe in yourself. I would not play the game if I did not think I could still do it. And not just as a fourth-line player. My goal is to get back and contribute with this team as I feel like I can. That’s what I have to do now. Next year I will come back and prove I can do that.”
Carolina’s captain had a really bad season by his standards, getting just 51 (16/35) points in 80 games. By far, it was his least productive post-lockout season. He became one of the most talked-about guys in the league, but not for anything positive. Although a lot of people disregard the +/- rating and what it “says” about a player, everyone was talking about his dreadful -23 rating. At the end of the day, Carolina fans might not remember that so much as they’ll remember that he was completely invisible during the playoffs. He had just four (1/3) points in 18 playoff games. Meanwhile, Jussi Jokinen (7/4) and Chad LaRose (4/7) each contributed more than what was expected of them.
There is still some speculation that Brind’Amour will see a different role than he’s used to. Carolina has a glut of centers. It seems like Jussi Jokinen will be back next season, and he’s made his desire to return pretty clear. Chad LaRose is another free agent-to-be who is a true centerman. He’s probably among the top priorities this summer, and that’ll be another post all to itself. Like Jokinen, LaRose is versatile, is a good specialty teams player and can also play either wing.
Brind’Amour’s TOI decreased as the season wore on, and he often found himself on the fourth line by season’s end. He might be stuck in that same role next season, and that’s not his only concern. While Brindy said that he’ll definitely be back, Jim Rutherford made it clear that he’ll have to earn his spot just like anyone else.
“Up until this point in his career, Rod’s always been slotted into a spot. There’s a little bit of a logjam there. There will be a battle in training camp and throughout the season to see who gets those extra minutes. But he’s in the right frame of mind, he’s not going to deal with an injury this summer, and he’ll get equal opportunity just like everybody else.
There’s also some speculation that the Hurricanes will go ahead and name Eric Staal the captain of this team. It’s already his team, and I doubt that it would hurt Rod Brind’Amour’s feelings if the two players traded “C” and “A”.
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David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.