Carolina Hurricanes give Rod Brind'amour wacky title 'Director of Forwards Development'

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rodthebodwiththecup.jpgThe man known as “Rod the Bod” may soon be known as “Rod the Suit.”

The beaten-up former face of the Carolina Hurricanes franchise (after Ron Francis) was given a funky title today, as GM Jim Rutherford announced that the team named Rod Brind’amour its “Director of Forwards Development.”

Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that Rod Brind’Amour has been named director of forwards development for the team. Brind’Amour, who officially retired from hockey on June 30, 2010, is responsible for working with all forwards in the Hurricanes system, including drafted players in the Canadian major-junior hockey leagues, ECHL and American Hockey League (AHL). In addition to his work with the team’s prospects, Brind’Amour will also spend time on the ice with the Hurricanes’ NHL players during training camp and throughout the season.

“It is important for our team to have its most-accomplished players like Rod stay with the organization,” said Rutherford. “Rod is already displaying the same work ethic and dedication in his new role as he did with us as a player.”

Considering the steep decline in his productivity the last two seasons, he probably acted in that coach/mentor-type role quite some time before he retired. It’s a slightly silly title, but it seems to be a glorified way to pay him to stay around a team that clearly values his presence and gives Brind’amour a chance to get his feet wet as a coach or front office member at the same time.

The Hurricanes really didn’t do much this off-season, so they’ll need to get the most out of the players who were already in their system. Rutherford and Co. are hoping that Brind’amour can help them do just that.

Update: Carolyn Christians points out that the club has done this sort of thing before; retired defenseman Glen Wesley holds the title of Director of Defensemen Development. The Appreciative Association of Alliteration* approves.

* – I just made that group up.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”