Rugged leader Rod Brind'Amour expected to retire today

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rodbrindamour.jpgAfter a long, highly-productive (if rarely pretty) NHL career, it looks like Rod will retire “The Bod.” Nick Kypreos and WRAL Sports reports that Rod Brind’Amour will announce the end of his playing days today.

It will be interesting to see what kind of salary cap impact his retirement will have. From everything I’ve read, there will be some residue from his contract since he signed the deal after he turned 35. If it’s filed as a formal retirement, it’s quite possible that his entire $3.6 million cap hit will register on Carolina’s salary cap for the 2010-11 season. The other possibility would be a buy-out. He’d be given two-thirds of his salary and the cap impact would be spread out over the next two seasons. Either way, the team will lose some money.

Chances are that the Hurricanes will gladly take a loss for the heart-and-soul captain. While Cam Ward received the Conn Smythe during Carolina’s unexpected run to a Stanley Cup victory, Brind’Amour’s intense leadership, timely scoring and fantastic checking made a Smythe-level impact on his team. It’s true that the two-time Selke award winner will be remembered for his two-way play and grit, but he’s also 46th in all-time scoring with 1184 points (five ahead of Sergei Fedorov). It’s unclear if he his career merits a Hall of Fame induction, but “Joe Camel” can hang up his skates without regret.

He’ll always hold a special place in my heart for video game reasons, too, considering the fact that he’s one of the best polygonal face-off winners ever. (We must have priorities, people.)

Brind’Amour was an effective player deep into his career, but it was obvious the last few seasons that he didn’t have it anymore. After putting up an impressive 82-point season after the Cup win, Brind’Amour’s offensive numbers tumbled from 51 in 07-08 and 08-09 all the way down to 19 this year. I’m not a big fan of plus/minus, but the most disturbing stat for the former Selke winner was his -29 this season and -23 in 08-09.

It’s true that his contract might hurt Carolina a bit, but it’s better than seeing one of the game’s great leaders relegated to the minors or healthy scratch status. Few thought he’d be able to honor the big contract he signed after the Cup run, but even fewer would say that it was for a lack of effort.

Ron Francis might be the face (and maybe even the heart) of the Hartford Whalers-Carolina Hurricanes franchise, but Brind’Amour was the backbone … and, I guess, the muscles.