Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour, known as a players’ coach, would never demean his players, though he embarrasses them sometimes without trying.
“When he comes into the dressing room to use the shower, we tell him to keep his shirt on because he makes us all look bad,” center Jordan Staal told USA TODAY Sports, laughing. “He’s pretty much in better shape than anyone on the team.”
Center Sebastian Aho said Brind’Amour, 48, can probably “outlift everyone in the whole league.”
When Brind’Amour played in the NHL from 1988 to 2010, nobody would have ever called him a typical player. Today, nobody would call him a typical coach. His connection to players just seems different.
“His drive to succeed is one of the best I’ve ever seen,” said Carolina general manager Don Waddell, who has been involved in pro hockey since 1980.
Brind’Amour has found a way to get through to his players all season, and that has never been more important than Tuesday night (8 ET, NBCSN) with his team trailing 2-0 to the Boston Bruins heading into Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final.
He was a popular and respected athlete — he was captain of the Hurricanes' 2006 Stanley Cup championship team — and yet he’s also one of the humbler people in the organization.
“He’s always been well-respected in the community, but he’s been in the background because he was an assistant coach,” Waddell said. “But when you become the coach, you become the face of the team. He would like to stay behind the spotlight. He’d prefer to give the spotlight to his players. He’s probably not as comfortable in the spotlight. He just wants to worry about coaching this team.”
Brind'Amour said moving from assistant to head coach has forced him to look at the game differently. He seems to lean on his assistant coaches frequently and likes their input.