Rod Brind‘Amour is not an analytics guy.

As he prepares for his first game as an NHL head coach, Brind‘Amour believes properly motivating his Carolina Hurricanes players will do far more than studying statistics. “Analytics have a place. I think they‘re coming in way too much, way too much, and I get it. Everyone‘s trying to find the edge. Coaching is a feel, too. It goes back to knowing your people and what makes them tick, and you can‘t analyze that in a number,” Brind‘Amour said in an exclusive interview with WRAL‘s Jeff Gravley.

“I really do think it‘s not the X‘s and O‘s,” Brind‘Amour added. “The coaches in this league, they know how to coach. They know the game, but it‘s the little things. How do I get Jeff to be the best Jeff? How do I get Joe to be the best Joe? Well, you have to know them. You‘ve got to figure it out, and that‘s where I‘m learning.”

Brind‘Amour will put that knowledge to the test Thursday when the Canes host the New York Islanders in the season opener at PNC Arena, where Brind‘Amour‘s retired No. 17 hangs from the rafters.

As a player, tales of Brind‘Amour‘s work ethic became legendary. As a coach, he‘s earning the same reputation with his players. “He‘s putting everything into this. That‘s for sure,” said Hurricanes captain Justin Williams, who also played with Brind‘Amour in Carolina. “He‘s putting in long hours, and it doesn‘t seem like a job to him. This is a full commitment, and we sense that. As players, we want to give him everything we‘ve got.”

Brind‘Amour noticed that enthusiasm all preseason, especially from his younger players. It started in the first exhibition game with a 4-1 win versus the Atlantic Division favorite Tampa Bay Lightning. “That really was huge,” he said. “It set the standard for what we wanted to do in camp, and so we‘ve got to maintain that. That‘s going to be the hard thing.”

What comes easily for Brind‘Amour is preaching the same message he did when he played: Focus on improving yourself. Don‘t worry about the opponent. “We‘re young. I don‘t want to err on worrying about the other group because I think it will be too much for our guys,” he said. “Play our game, and have fun with it.”