Carolina Hurricanes icon and head coach Rod Brind’Amour has a new puck to add to his collection. After beating the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road 3-1, Curtis McElhinney, newly acquired goaltender for the Hurricanes, scooped up the game puck when the horn sounded.
Curtis McElhinney scooped up the game puck for Rod Brind'Amour's first win as a head coach in the NHL.
Brind'Amour: "I just stood back there and yelled. He was making all the saves."
— Michael Smith (@MSmithCanes) October 6, 2018
Although he played a superlative game, and under normal circumstances would have received the game puck himself to commemorate his first Hurricanes win, McElhinney did something different. Instead of keeping the game puck for himself, McElhinney made sure that it went to Brind’Amour to commemorate his first win as head coach of the Hurricanes, and thereby cementing himself as one of the classiest guys to ever play the game of hockey.
McElhinney said in an interview with the Hurricanes’ television broadcasting team of John Forslund and Tripp Tracy that he gave the puck to team captain Justin Williams, who then presented it to Brind’Amour in the locker room.
Curtis McElhinney talking to @JohnForslund and Tripp after a big win in his first start for the #Canes. He grabbed the game pick to give to Rod Brind’Amour “His first win as a head coach is more important than my first win for the Hurricanes.” pic.twitter.com/vC1NS8ILo6
— Mike Maniscalco (@mikemaniscalco) October 6, 2018
Hurricanes’ McElhinney Makes a Statement
The Hurricanes acquired McElhinney off of waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs this past Tuesday. General manager Don Waddell made the announcement, saying that regular goaltender Scott Darling was out with a hamstring injury. All of Darling’s hard work during the offseason that created a positive sense of momentum for his do-over after last season’s debacle got put on hold. Enter McElhinney.
McElhinney got the call to be in goal Friday night after Petr Mrázek played in Thursday night’s opening night 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Islanders. Mrázek faced 20 shots, blocking 18 of them. McElhinney took the reins Friday night and looked like a powerhouse goaltender — something that the Hurricanes have needed for quite some time.
McElhinney allowed one goal on 33 shots from the Blue Jackets. He was quick inside the crease, thoughtful with directing the puck, and extremely flexible. He did not look like a guy who should have been on waivers. Rather he looked like something the Hurricanes hope they can get on a nightly basis this season.
CBSsports.com reported after the game, “The journeyman came out on top in a head-to-head battle with Sergei Bobrovsky, the man McElhinney backed up for three-plus seasons in Columbus. The 35-year-old may only stick with Carolina until Scott Darling (lower body) gets healthy, but McElhinney has at least made a good first impression with the Canes.”
McElhinney has been around and is at the back end of his career. His career goals against average of 2.85 and save percentage of .909 may not be elite, but those numbers are not too shabby, either. A few more outings like Friday night’s and Brind’Amour and Waddell may be looking at their stable of goaltenders a lot differently.
Brind’Amour’s Trophy Case Plus a Puck
Brind’Amour was recognized two seasons in a row for his defensive play as a forward. He was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 2006 and 2007. According to NHL.com, The Frank J. Selke Trophy is an annual award given “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game…The trophy was named after Frank J. Selke, former general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. It was first awarded after the 1977-78 season.”
Of course, in 2006 Brind’Amour was a winner of Lord Stanley’s Cup, He is recognized as the heart and soul of the Hurricanes team that ascended to the pinnacle of NHL greatness. Winning the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006 as captain of the Hurricanes sealed Brind’Amour forever as an icon in the hearts and minds of the team’s fans.
Yet Brind’Amouur is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
He took a good first step Friday night against the Blue Jackets. And he now has a well-worn game puck to prominently display as another of his list of accomplishments. He also has a goalie with a lot of game and a lot of class.