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Barbara Terry interview with Rod Brind’Amour

Rod Brind’Amour is a 21-year veteran center in the NHL. Over the years he’s played for the St. Louis Blues, followed by the Philadelphia Flyers and finally the Carolina Hurricanes, where he’s won a Stanley Cup and two Selke trophies for being the NHL’s top defensive center. He’s scored more than 1,000 points in his career and has logged almost 1,000 penalty minutes, so he’s a scorer and a bruiser. In fact, on the bruiser front, Rod is widely known as Rod the Bod for his prolific workout regimen. I can testify that he, indeed, lives up to his name. He is in exquisite shape and it’s probably why he’s been able to excel for 21 years in the meat grinder known as professional hockey.

What was your first car?

Back in the day, I had an IROC. I was just signed with St. Louis. Back when they were sorta okay, a bur­gundy one with T-tops. I only had it a year before I got rid of it. I was 18 and bought it with my own money, so it felt pretty good.

You must have paid cash for it, right then and there.

Yes. I then had a Cadillac Allante, a Mercedes CLK and a Dodge Durango – when I first started having kids – that I really liked. I also had an old beat-up Jeep that was great to take to the lake. I also just sold a Harley in December 2007 that I had, because, since I got it in only put 2,000 miles on it. I never took time to ride it. It just sat in my garage and some guy came by and made me an offer that I could not refuse, so I sold it.

Can you drive a stick shift?

Yes. I remember my dad had a Volkswagen – a beat- up Volkswagen – when I just turned the age to drive, and we took it to the mill. It was painted white. It looked like Herbie, the Love Bug. He bought it from a teenager. It was all souped up. Looking back on it, I wish we would have kept it because it was cool at the time. That was how I learned to drive. The clutch was hard to operate and would grind pretty bad.

Do you prefer to own or lease your vehicles?

I own, but I really do not care. It really makes no differ­ence. I do like to trade them out. My Honda Ridgeline that I currently drive is brand new, but I had the ’06 and it is the exact same car…they did not change anything on it, but I just got a newer one because I like them. I kinda like the idea of changing them out to keep them new.

Speaking of the Ridgeline, I noticed that you have low-profile tires on it. Was that your choice?

That is funny. The old one I had was just plain. When I got the new one, I was driving by a wheel place, just pulled it in right, and literally walked in there and said, ‘What do we got here. Just make this look a little sharper. I do not want chrome ones because I want something a little different.’ You have been in those shops, I am sure. Everything looks pretty cool. So the salesperson, of course, rolls them out and sticks them on the front of my Ridgeline. I go, ‘Woo,’ and told him to just put those on. It sharpened it up a little, for fun.

Are you happy that you made the choice of the low- profiles or do you feel that it was a spur-of-the- moment decision?

No, I am happy with it because it looks nicer…it adds a little touch to it instead of being totally plain, like what I have had before. Do you think it looks silly, because the guys on the team were giving me a hard time at first. I get a lot of grief. The other guys on the team are telling me that I have to step it up. We have the worst park­ing lot in the league. Every time we pull into the team’s parking lot in other towns, we see what other teams are driving. The other guys on the team say our parking lot looks bad because of my truck. The rims and the tires are the end of the road as far as modifications to the Ridgeline.

Are the other teammates jealous of your Ridgeline?

You’d be surprised how many guys get into the Ridgeline with me. I show them how simple it is and they like it.

Wow, were you able to still go on your trip?

The funny thing was, I was all packed up. I ended up going and dealt with getting the truck fixed later. So, on my whole trip, I had to climb out my doors that were all smashed up. The Ridgeline had obvious damage, but the construction guy’s truck was toast.

Would you ever see yourself buying a hybrid?

If they made a Ridgeline hybrid, I probably would. I am all about better efficiency and the Green movement. I think, in the future, most all cars will be hybrid.

Simplistic is good.

I think that I have told you before that I have had nice cars. I do not know what it is, if you have kids, you need a vehi­cle that can take a beating. I do not care if the kids spill stuff, drop cookie crumbs or ding it up. It doesn’t matter. If you are driving something real nice, you kind of have the tendency to be more particular about it. Bottom line…the Ridgeline gets me where I need to go.

If utility is what you’re looking for, then you’ve done well. Good choice on the Ridgeline. It will last you a lot longer than a lot of the other cars would have.

Cars, to me, are functional, when, to a lot of the guys, it is ‘their thing’… ‘their statement.’ When I had a nice car, the statement that it made did not feel right. I am so much more comfortable in something that is down-to-earth and what I need it for.

Now I wanted to find out more about him. He was so straight­forward and easy to talk to. I wanted to find out what made him tick, what turned him from this laid-back guy into No. 17.

Okay, Rod, what is the most interesting thing that you have ever done in a car?

(CHUCKLEL.Is that a real question?

All right, from the look on his face and the three shades of red, I decided to leave this question alone!

How fast have you driven on the freeway?

I do not know, exactly.

What has been the worst wreck that you have ever had?

Right off of this driveway, right here, two summers ago in my old Ridgeline. I had it packed up and I was going away for a month. I had all of my workout equipment in the back of my pick-up and I could not see out the back window. I had a whole bunch of construction people here because of the stuff that I was doing to the house. I have a bad habit because, when I go backwards, I look out of the driver’s side and watch the grass on the ground. I did not see that a guy pulled up right behind me in his construction truck. I had the music really loud and I floored it, going fast, and I smashed the whole side of my car to the point that I could not open the doors. Wrecked his truck, wrecked my truck. Not a serious accident, but that was the worst damage… other than that, I have not had any serious injury accidents.

Have you ever driven so fast that the governor kicked in?

I do not think that I have ever done that. I did not know that it would even happen. So, you are going that fast that it shuts off?

Yes. Did you know that your Suburban probably has a governor on it?

I am only in the Suburban with my kids and would not go that fast for the governor to kick in. I am gonna be in my Suburban one day and call you because you said that it would cut off if I were to go 100. Hey, it did not cut off and I am in jail.

What is your favorite color combination with a car?

Black on black.

Do you always buy a leather interior or is a cloth inte­rior okay?

I do not like cloth at all, so, if I had the choice, I would go with leather all of the time.

Do you feel that your career has affected your choice in the automobiles that you have chosen and pur­chased?

No, not at all. It would probably go the other way. lean get nice cars, but I just do not want them. I had a nice car when I first started. What affects my choice is my situation, my needs, my practicality. I have an old Suburban, but it is the best that I have ever had. When I need to pack everybody up, I do not have to worry about how I pack…you know what I mean? It’s just as easy as chucking everything in and we go. The pick-up is great if you need to throw stuff in the back, and I can fit all my kids in there. I base my choice of vehicles on that it has to be a truck. I do not really like cars.

Now about Rod the Bod.

What is your workout routine like?

Six days a week. Five days are more intense than the sixth day, which is a Saturday. A little lighter, then nothing on Sunday. Monday through Friday, all mornings.

I wondered if he was ready to retire. He looked in great shape, but 20 years is a long time for the dally grind of any sport.

Speaking of your career…what are your plans?

I do not know how to answer that because I am not sure. I am looking forward to this coming up season: 2009-2010. We will see how it goes. I do not think that I am at the point that it is year-to-year. I have a three-year commitment that I made to the team, which I need to honor because that is the way that I have always been. I cannot see myself play­ing past that, but you never know. I do not want to be one of those guys that says that they are done, then come back. I do not like that at all.

Yeah, how many times has Brett Favre retired, then resumed his career?

Why say that you are done, then come back, you know what I mean?

I definitely took Rod to be a man of his word. My guess was that, when he was done, It was over. I was just curious if, after all these years, he wasn’t a little tired.

Do you still have the love of your sport that you had, let’s say, 20 years ago?

Yeah. It is different now. I enjoy it so much more now because I have proven myself and gone through all of that. I know where I am at with this team, and I feel comfort­able. We won the Stanley Cup, which helps. It takes that pressure off of the list. What has been great about playing is, I do not remember who taught or told me this, but you need to always appreciate every day that you have in this league because you never know when it is done. So, all along, every day, I have felt like this is great. I do not think that there is anything left, like I am missing something. I have enjoyed the whole time and now that I know that it is ending, it is better than it will be when it is over…I know that!

It seems that you are still extremely passionate about playing.

I think so. I like to win, and it is great to win with a bunch of guys. There is something that team sports provide that is really a great feeling. You are a failure most of the time, and that is what is the unbelievable reality…one team wins. You fail more than you win. It means so much when you do win, and you want to do that again. You still want to win, so I guess it is passion that I feel.

Is it all about the camaraderie of the team for you?

Big time! If you talk to any guys – especially in our sport, ‘a team sport’ – when guys retire, what they miss most is hanging out with the team, the jokes, etc., etc. You do not realize that until you do not have it anymore. That is what makes it fun.

I can see where it will be such a void in your life when it comes to your retirement and the fact that you will not be around your team at all times.

Yes, that is gonna be the toughest thing. So, when I do say that I am done, I will need that next thing. I need to have the thing that gets me out of bed at 7 a.m. What is it-that is what I worry about because I am not sure what that is gonna be yet. Hopefully, something will come up.

If you have a dream car that you have not yet pur­chased, what would that dream car be?

Ummm, that is a good question. Ummm, an old Corvette would be nice – like a late-1950s or early- 1960s model. Honestly, I also like the old Jeeps. I still love the old Jeeps where you can put the top down. And, you know, they are really hard to find now. I like old stuff like an old Wrangler with some nice chrome wheels on it to make it look nice.

What I found when I got to Rod’s home in Raleigh-Durham was the most peaceful man I ever met in my life. Yes, I said one of the toughest, hardest-hitting, most powerful shut­down centers in the NHL is very relaxed. Not only did he not pick a fight with anybody while I was there or arbitrarily body-check anybody, he was genuinely nice. Whatever hap­pens when he hits the ice is turned off when he leaves it. I’m glad I got to meet him and spend some time with him.

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