Tonight the Hurricanes will honor Rod Brind 'Amour for surpassing the 1,000 point mark in his career. Rod has played in 1,222 NHL games and has amassed 394 goals and 629 assists.
Perhaps the most telling stats reflect what is going on right now-in his 18th season. He leads the team in points, assists, face off percentage, time-on-ice per game (by more than 2 minutes), physical conditioning and leadership by example.
Rod has never talked a very good game, but he leads by personal example every day. Ron Francis led by example as well. He brought statesmanship, class and a Hall of Fame aura to the Hurricanes. Think back to your favorite war movie. Ron Francis is the compassionate first lieutenant, he's the Tom Hanks character in Saving Private Ryan. When I think of Rod, I think of a gritty Master Sargent - Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge. He's quiet, intense, menacing and totally invested in the welfare of his boys. Where Ron expected the boys to follow him, Rod pushes from within the pack. Rod makes everybody in the clubhouse a better pro. Rod 's legacy as the captain of the Carolina Hurricanes will be more understated than Ron Francis, but much more powerful. Oh, and of course delivering the franchise's first Stanley Cup won't hurt that legacy either.
Buffalo is clearly the better team at this point in the season. After the Canes game last night, I started watching the Sharks and Coyotes. The Sharks owned the puck for much of the game. Coyotes couldn't make a tape-to-tape pass to save themselves. The Sharks were too cute for their own good. They tried to make that extra pass. A shot on goal wasn't enough. They wanted to shoot at empty nets on the backside. Buffalo is a lot like the Sharks, except that they like taking shots. With John Grahame playing the role of human pitch-back machine, the Sabres were able to generate scoring opportunities off the first shot.
I like the quotes I've seen from Rod and Mike Commodore today. I agree with them. It's over and it's time to move on. The ability to Compartmentalize is good. Let's see how things shake out come April.
If you haven't seen much of the Ducks this year, keep an eye on Chris Kunitz and Andy McDonald. They are mites in the Briere mode, but fearless little playmakers who are probably making Teemu Selanne look better than he is at this point in his career.
I'll be watching the Ducks defensive corps to see how they manage play in their end and generate the breakout in comparison to the Hurricanes.
Friday, December 29, 2006