Brind’Amour touched on how the Hurricanes’ post-game “Storm Surge” took after Don Cherry’s “bunch of jerks” comment. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Brind’Amour touched on how the Hurricanes’ post-game “Storm Surge” took after Don Cherry’s “bunch of jerks” comment. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

B.C.’s Brind’Amour reflects on year one as NHL coach

Hurricane legend speaks about surprise season, the Storm Surge and life in Carolina

Rod Brind’Amour spent the last decade of his NHL playing career in Carolina, leading the team to a Stanley Cup in 2006 as captain.

After retiring, he became an assistant coach and continued to make his home in Raleigh, N.C. At the same time, he wanted to become a head coach, but not for just any team. He wanted to stay where he was, so when the Hurricanes’ head coaching position came open last season, it was natural he put his name forward.

“For me it was time to either get a chance to be a head coach, or do something else,” he said in an interview while back in Campbell River for his annual fundraising golf tournament. “I was OK being an assistant coach, I liked it.”

RELATED STORY: Brind’Amour/Nugent-Hopkins golf tourney in Campbell River raises $122,000

RELATED STORY: Brind’Amour and Nugent-Hopkins dish on Vegas, coaching and toughest goalies

What perhaps was not so natural was how he guided the team, which had missed the playoffs for nine seasons, to 10 more wins and back into the post-season. Once there, they made it to the Eastern Conference finals. He was pleased not simply at making the playoffs but with how the team made it.

“We had the second-best record for the last half of the season,” he said. “That was an impressive run to even get in the playoffs.”

Once they got there, they swept both last year’s champs in Washington and the New York Islanders, before losing to the Boston Bruins in the eastern finals. The win over the Capitals stands out in particular.

“Probably one of the highlights of my career,” he said. “That series was very special…. There was so much emotion.”

The success this year has helped raised the profile of the team in Raleigh and the area.

“It’s got us back on the map in our community,” he said. “Now, we’ve got to take that next step.”

Another thing that helped get the team back on the map has been the team’s “Storm Surge” – the choreographed post-game win celebrations. He chuckles over the way the team’s Storm Surge took off, especially after broadcasting legend Don Cherry called the team “a bunch of jerks” in response.

“It blew up because of ‘Grapes,’” he said.

Brind’Amour said the celebrations were never intended for the media or as a message to opposing teams, who would be back in the dressing room after games, but simply something fun between the players and the fans.

The origin went back to last August when he talked to team captain Justin Williams, a former teammate, about the need to do something to engage fans in North Carolina again and get more people to come to the arena. There, hockey can get lost among other sports.

Brind’Amour remembered seeing players celebrating with fans when he briefly played in Switzerland and thought it might work in North Carolina. It did. He recalls how the Hurricanes were up 5-0 in one game, and in the last few minutes, instead of fans heading out early to beat the traffic, they stuck around to see what the players were going to do.

“I couldn’t believe how well the fans took to it,” he said. “That was to the players’ credit. They just kept finding something different to do. I don’t know where it goes. That’s going to be a whole other thing.”

Brind’Amour doesn’t necessarily see himself as a “career coach.” Coaching today is different from when he was playing, especially with the growth of analytics, and while this is part of the process, he admits, it plays more of a back-up role, simply providing another lens to see the game.

“It definitely has come into the game. Everyone is using it,” he said.

He is nicely settled in Raleigh with his family. When he was growing up, his only exposure to North Carolina was on TV seeing Michael Jordan plays college basketball for UNC Tar Heels, or the famed North Carolina State Wolfpack upset win in the 1983 NCAA championship. Funnily enough now, one of his good friends is Sidney Lowe, the point guard for that championship NC State Wolfpack team, based in Raleigh.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I ever think that that’s where I’d be actually playing,” he said.

For the Carolina Hurricanes now, the bar has been set higher. From here, he knows next season for the Hurricanes will not be easy, and even the off-season will require work to sign players, so 2018/19 is really only the starting point for what Brind’Amour wants the team to achieve.

“It’s always tough in this league right now,” he said. “Everyone’s getting better. We have to get better.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Comox Valley artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

Comox Valley medical clinics are all open, including the availability to book face-to-face care (i.e. for a physical examination) as per your clinic’s protocol (most clinics operate a “virtual care first” policy). ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
Comox Valley doctors offer answers to local COVID health care questions

Public service announcement submitted by the Comox Valley Division of Family Practice

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Artist Jim Holyoak’s installation “Quagmire.” Holyoak will be the first speaker for the Artist Talk Online Winter 2021 series. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
North Island College Artist Talk goes online for winter 2021

The series invites contemporary Canadian artists to speak about their professional practice

Colin J.D. Crooks has published his debut novel, a fantasy titled “The Shards of Etherious: Arisen.” (headshot photo courtesy Joslyn Kilborn Photography)
Cumberland author delves into fantasy world with debut novel

The Shards of Etherious: Arisen is the first book of a five-book series

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Second doses delayed as B.C. vaccine delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Jerry Dyck plans to purchase a new RV to drive across Canada in, once it’s safe to travel again. (Courtesy BCLC)
Island man plans post-pandemic cross-Canada RV trip after $2M lottery win

Retired electrician bought the winning ticket in Duncan

Most Read