Rod Brind'Amour enters Flyers' Hall
The hard-working center, now a Carolina assistant, is greeted by a roaring crowd before the Flyers-Hurricanes game.
THE LIGHTS dimmed inside Wells Fargo Center and players from the Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes walked out to their respective benches to watch the ceremony, the Flyers wearing No. 17 patches on their jerseys.
A tribute started to play on the video board, showing the newest Flyers Hall of Famer - and current Hurricanes assistant coach - Rod Brind'Amour.
Highlights from the eight-plus seasons Brind'Amour spent adorned in orange and black in Philadelphia played with Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" as the background music.
It was a perfect song choice to accompany the subject of the ceremony. Despite the gaudy numbers, such as the 235 goals, ranking 10th all-time in Flyers history, and the 601 points in 633 games in Philadelphia, Brind'Amour played a simple man's game. He played hard, he was tough, he worked harder than most of his teammates and most of his competitors, and that allowed him to have the success he had as a player.
The Flyers recognized that success Monday night, making him the 24th player inducted into the team's Hall of Fame.
Former teammates Chris Therien, John LeClair and Ron Hextall - the current general manager of the organization - joined the black-carpet ceremony along with Brind'Amour's wife and four kids.
Flyers PA announcer Lou Nolan introduced Brind'Amour, who sported an orange tie, to a standing ovation and roar from a crowd and fan base that Brind'Amour said during a Monday morning news conference, always kept him "on my toes."
In a city like Philadelphia, Brind'Amour's passion and grit were always appreciated. His workout regimen was, in a way, ahead of his time. It helped him play a franchise-record 484 consecutive games.
"If you're on the good side of the Philadelphia Flyers, or Philadelphia fans in general, you're going to be fine, but the minute you do something that the crowd doesn't like, that's not where you want to be," Brind'Amour said during his news conference. "I just made sure in my mind that I do it right. That's the way I've always kind of been, but I think it fit well with this market."
It sure did. Brind'Amour mentioned how awesome it was to have a large group of Flyers fans in Raleigh, N.C., when he was inducted into Carolina's Ring of Honor.
"You don't get that; that's special," Brind'Amour said. "The people that take the time and effort to do that, that's what makes this place special is those types of fans."
Brind'Amour - who played 1,484 career games and racked up 1,184 points across 20 seasons with St. Louis, Philadelphia and Carolina, where he eventually won a Stanley Cup as captain in 2006 - said Monday was a long time coming.
It was finally a chance at closure. The way he left Philadelphia, via trade for Keith Primeau in January 2000, he never had a chance to really say goodbye to Flyers fans.
When he got the microphone, the crowd let him hear it.
"It's been almost 16 years since I last wore a Flyers jersey," Brind'Amour told them. "I wasn't sure if you guys were even going to remember me. I don't know what I was thinking; this is Philadelphia, and Philadelphia Flyers fans never forget."
Brind'Amour was one of the NHL's best second-line centers, a role he took after the Flyers acquired Eric Lindros. Brind'Amour was on many talented Flyers teams with the likes of Lindros, LeClair, Eric Desjardins and Mikael Renberg.
The 1996-97 Flyers reached the Stanley Cup final, but were swept by Detroit. Brind'Amour scored three of the Flyers' six goals in the series.
Brind'Amour talked about those memories and those teammates during his speech. After thanking the fans initially, he began by telling a story from his early days in Philadelphia. Ed Snider - whom Brind'Amour called one of the greatest owners in sports - came into the locker room after a game in which Brind'Amour had been kicked out after a confrontation with a referee.
Brind'Amour looked up and saw Snider right in front of him, and Snider asked what happened. Brind'Amour told Snider the referee had told him off. Snider turned around, stormed out of the locker room at the Spectrum and went and kicked in the door to the referees' room, Brind'Amour said, to defend his young, budding star.
"(It was) a real sense of pride that the owner that I played for would take my story and would have my back," Brind'Amour said.
Brind'Amour said Monday morning that being a member of that long Flyers tradition under Snider was an honor. During his speech, he nearly choked up talking about Snider, his former teammates, and most importantly, he said, the fans.
"That's what makes players want to stay here," Brind'Amour said Monday morning. "No one wants to leave here. You just don't. If you do, there's something wrong with you."
Now Brind'Amour never has to leave again, at least not his name. It's forever etched into Flyers history.