PENTICTON, Canada Ė Few elite hockey players offer a greater testament to the power of hard work than Rod BrindíAmour. He was inducted into the British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame (BCHHF).
There are other stars whose ferocious workout routines have earned them notoriety, from Pavel Bure to Chris Chelios. But not many can say that they were actually locked out of the teamís fitness centre due to working out too much, as BrindíAmour was during his days at Michigan State University.
The big, intense centre from Campbell River parlayed his high pain tolerance, ability in the faceoff circle, and strong skating into a 20-year NHL career with the St. Louis Blues, Philadelphia Flyers, and Carolina Hurricanes. But he also became a mainstay on Canadian national teams, experiencing both lows and highs.
It was disappointing for BrindíAmour to finish fourth at the 1989 World Juniors in Anchorage, Alaska, and even more so when Canada earned the same placement at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, by losing back-to-back games to the Czechs and Finns. Losing the 1996 World Cup of Hockey to the Americans in a three-game final stung too.
However, up until this two-time Selke Trophy winner captained the Hurricanes to the 2006 Stanley Cup, BrindíAmourís biggest career victory came at the 1994 IIHF World Championship. In the final versus Finland, he scored Canadaís only goal in regulation on the power play with under five minutes left, paving the way for Luc Robitaille to get the 2-1 shootout clincher.
This was the first Canadian squad to win World Championship gold since the 1961 Trail Smoke Eaters. It also marked BrindíAmourís first medal at the Worlds in his third consecutive appearance.
IIHF.com spoke with the 41-year-old BrindíAmour, who now serves as an assistant coach and development coach with the Hurricanes, shortly after his induction. Heís still passionate and wide-eyed about the game of hockey.
What did you take away from being part of the Canadian team that ended a 33-year World Championship drought in 1994 in Italy?
Just being involved was special. Any time Canada calls you, itís an honour. So to be on that team with some unbelievable talent, for me it was just awesome to be part of it. Winning was like the icing on the cake. It meant more to us than anything. You can see it. The way we celebrate, the way Canada views hockey, itís just special any time you can be part of a Canadian hockey team.
You played 1,484 NHL games. How much did those famously intense workouts of yours extend your career?
I think it was vital for me. I still talk about it to this day with kids and the athletes we have with the Hurricanes. You never want to have any excuses for not performing.
Work your butt off, be in the best shape you can possibly be, and if it doesnít work out, you donít ever have to think, ďWell, I didnít work hard enough.Ē You never want that to be the reason that youíre not successful. Thatís what motivated me and kept me playing.
Being a coach or in management is a different animal from being a player. What did you learn in your first year in a new off-ice role?
Itís tough, because the game looks pretty easy when youíre not playing it. When youíre sitting up in the stands or the press box or even the bench, itís easy. Everyone knows you should have done this or you should have done that. But youíve got to remember how tough it is.
So the toughest thing is really communicating to the other people that itís tougher than they think. When youíre watching from up here, you get away from it for a long time, and you start to forget how tough it is to play this game.
Your team just signed Alexander Syomin to a one-year deal. In terms of pure talent, this two-time World Champion might be in the NHLís top five. What are you going to do with Syomin to help him maximize his potential in Carolina?
With him, everyone will tell you, itís about getting him to play every night at that level. When you have a talent like that, you expect him to play great every night. I think if he can just be consistent with his effort, itís going to help us tremendously.
Iím really excited about what weíve got going on now. There are 30 teams in the NHL, and we got better as well as any of them this summer. I hope we have a season [that starts on time] because weíve got a good team now.
On that note, youíve also brought in Jordan Staal, who has great experience for a 23-year-old as a Cup winner (2009) and World Champion (2007). How much more do you think his game can develop in a situation where heís no longer overshadowed by Sidney Crosby and Yevgeni Malkin?
I think the skyís the limit for him. You just said it: heís only 23. People forget this, because heís already been around a long time. He hasnít even gotten to where he can get to. Heís already shown, and I played against him when he was younger, that he can play with anybody. Heís got great skills, and weíre going to give him the opportunity to shine. Heís not going to have to play behind anybody. Heís going to get tons of ice time. I only expect him to do more and more things as he goes along.