Things are changing in Carolina, with Ron Francis ousted Thursday as general manager and granted the position of president of hockey operations.
The move has already engendered a small army of thinkpieces, with many concluding that the transfer of power is actually a demotion for Francis. It may appear to be a promotion on paper, but team owner Tom Dundon is fresh out of patience in Raleigh and this change reflects that.
In fact, the new general manager for the Hurricanes will report directly to the team owner. Dundon became majority owner on January 11 and he’s on the immediate hunt for the type of general manager that reflects his vision for the squad.
“Since I took control of the team, I’ve had a good chance to be around and assess the operations,” Dundon said. “There are a lot of good people working in the organization, but I feel that a change in direction is needed when it comes to hockey personnel decisions. Ron is a smart and talented hockey man. I am glad that he will continue to be a part of the team, serving in this new role.”
Francis was hired as the general manager in 2014 and replaced Jim Rutherford in the post. He’s been serving in the front office for a dozen seasons, but the road hasn’t been the easiest.
Carolina has only made the post-season once since their Stanley Cup victory in 2005-2006.
Right now, the Hurricanes are four points out of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and have 15 games to go.
Evolution has been at the forefront of Dundon’s mindset since he took over and moving Francis aside is kind of a necessity. After all, Carolina hasn’t seen much success and have struggled to put butts in seats. They’ve consistently been among the league’s worst-attended clubs. This season, they hover just above the Arizona Coyotes and basement-dwelling Islanders.
Despite a poor record, a lack of playoff success and awful attendance, the Hurricanes are capable of playing good hockey. Sort of.
Carolina is among the best teams in the NHL with respect to possession numbers, but they haven’t been able to parlay that into actual results. They’re on pace to miss the post-season for the ninth straight season.
And if we’re being honest, Francis’ moves as general manager haven’t always been great. He’s yet to solve the goaltending dilemma, with Cam Ward still serving as the starter. Eddie Lack petered out, while Scott Darling was granted a big contract and hasn’t amounted to much.
There’s a decent base on Carolina and Dundon has the tools to work with when it comes to forging the team in his image. And Francis deserves a lot of the credit for assembling a reliable unit of young forwards and defencemen.
But the results have to follow and, for all intents and purposes, the new boss of the Hurricanes is not a patient man.