There are a lot of things from the 2006 Stanley Cup run that I hope to always remember. The beauty and wonder of a game just discovered but already engrossing. The brilliance of Cam Ward. The sound of grown men celebrating an achievement they'd dreamed about since childhood. The sight of Rod Brind'Amour lifting the Cup while an entire city cheered.
Of course, that last one seems especially easy to pull from the memory banks today as the news comes out that we have seen Rod play his last game. Rod Brind'Amour has retired from professional hockey and is moving to a "suit and tie" role in the Canes' front office. I have no doubt that we will see #17 raised to the rafters this coming season.
It's times like these that I find words fail me. To say "thank you" doesn't seem strong enough for a man who gave everything he had to a team that many thought wouldn't make it. To say "he'll be missed" is too morose. Stats don't adequately explain what he means to the team, awards and records don't scratch the surface. Rod is so much more than a player on a hockey team in a city.
How do you explain the look of intensity in his eyes when he lined up for a faceoff? How do you chronicle a work ethic so intense that it's a standard by which all must measure themselves? How do you even begin to compile a record of the stories from his career? How do you convey the meaning behind the words "In Rod We Trust"? How do you make people understand that he'll always be the captain?
Short answer? No matter how much you want to, you can't. All you can truly do is offer him your thanks, your respect and your admiration. Thank you Rod. Thank you for everything.