Who is the top all-time center in Carolina Hurricanes History?
The Carolina Hurricanes have had several great centers in their history in Carolina, but who is their top center of all time?
If you have been listening to NHL radio then you would be very familiar with this conversation. When discussing the all-time roster for the Carolina Hurricanes, they hit a snag when it came to just who would be crowned the top center of all time.
Other positions are a lot easier to discuss. Cam Ward quickly secures the Goalie position, even with tough competition in guys like Arturs Irbe and even Keven Weekes. Justin Williams has very little to no competition for his position on the wing. The defense is littered with great players along with the left-wing, but there is something special about the center position.
The top three names are all legends in the sport and legends for the team.
That’s right, the three names that come up are Eric Staal, Ron Francis, and Rod Brind’amour. So who gets the honor of being the team’s overall top center in Hurricanes History? We took to Twitter to try and find the fan answer and as you can see below, Rod took the voting by a landslide, winning a whopping 60% of the vote.
Now to be fair, there could be a recency bias to this. Of all the names on the list, he is the only one to still be associated with the team. Eric Staal is thriving with the Minnesota Wild and Ron Francis is waiting to do work as the first General Manager of Seattle’s yet to be named NHL team.
But let us look at their accomplishments and try and gauge who really is the top center of all time on the team.
If we are looking at straight statistics, Eric Staal blows the competition out of the water. With 909 games played with Carolina, the former Captain has 322 goals and 453 points for a whopping total of 775 points. No one even comes close to that in franchise history.
But the runner up is now Coach Rod Brind’amour who, with only 694 games played with the Carolina Hurricanes has 174 points, 299 assists, for 473 points. That has him at 0.682 points per game compared to Staal’s ridiculous 0.853 points per game.
But what about Ronny Franchise? Where does he fit in when it comes to the numbers? Ron Francis played his better years with the Penguins and only played 472 games in with the Carolina Hurricanes. In those games, he has 118 goals and 236 assists for 354 points. But that isn’t counting his ten years as a Hartford Whaler.
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If you want to count those then he takes Eric Staal’s numbers out behind the barn and all you hear is a large bang before he comes back and tells you that those numbers now live on a different farm. In those ten years, he played 714 games and scored 264 goals, and a mind-blowing 557 assists to add up to 821 points.
All together that is 1175 points when you combine the numbers from both the Whalers and the Hurricanes in 1186 games played. That is as close to a point per game player as you can get. Why wouldn’t you consider the Hall of Famer the best center in Carolina Hurricanes History?
Because of the intangibles that don’t show on the scoresheet.
Sure, Ron Francis has two cups, but they weren’t with Carolina or Hartford. In fact, he only took the Hurricanes/Whalers to the playoffs eight times, and only went as far as the cup finals once in 2001 where the Hurricanes lost to the Detroit Red Wings. He took the Penguins to the playoffs every year and won the cup twice in eight years. He might be their All-time Center, but not Carolina’s
On the other hand, both Eric Staal and Rod Brind’amour lifted the cup in Carolina in 2006. But one was young and beginning his career while the other was wearing the C and reaching the pinnacle of success as a player. That man is, of course, Rod Brind’amour.
Staal, while he had great numbers, never took the Carolina Hurricanes to the playoffs as a Captain. In fact, he only took the team to the playoffs twice as a player in general. While this is partly on the management of the team and the lack of good players surrounding Staal, He never really found his groove leading this team into a playoff run of any type.
Rod Brind’amour, on the other hand, took the team into four different runs and was on the roster for both Stanley Cup finals. He is now behind the bench as the man who would break the playoff drought that began with his final season as a player. So, sure there is some recency bias, but to be absolutely fair, the bias matches the real-time efforts of the greatest C in Canes history.
Question for CC Readers: Who do you think is the greatest center in Carolina Hurricanes history?