The Carolina Hurricanes have terminated the contract of president of hockey operations Ron Francis. The team made the announcement Monday.
Francis had been kicked out of his post as general manager in March and was assigned as the president of hockey operations in what many saw as a demotion. That assessment seems to have been correct with this latest chapter in the Carolina front office saga.
Gale Force Sports & Entertainment president and current interim general manager Don Waddell has been leading the search for a new general manager, with owner Tom Dundon sitting clearly at the top of the food chain. Plans fell through to hire Buffalo’s Steve Greeley and Waddell still holds the post for now.
Joe Nieuwendyk also resigned as the team’s pro scout and adviser, by the way.
It’s clear that Raleigh wants a new direction and the ousting of Francis was a foregone conclusion. The club went 36-35-11 this season, good for 14 points behind the New Jersey Devils for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Hurricanes haven’t seen the playoffs since 2009 and Francis was tasked with rebuilding the team. He did stock some draft picks during his tenure, but trades were not his strong suit and many saw his inaction as the key reason for his departure.
Francis has had to shoulder the blame of the Scott Darling deal, for instance. He hauled the goalie in from Chicago only to see him finish dead last in save percentage in his first year. Many saw the Darling contract, a four-year deal to the tune of $16.6 million, as indicative of Francis’ lack of managerial prowess.
And now, the Hurricanes sit with a number of empty rooms in the front office. They’re without a head coach as well, with Bill Peters opting out of the final year of his contract to head for the somewhat greener pastures of the Calgary Flames.
Carolina has its work cut out for it ahead of the NHL Entry Draft in June. The Hurricanes own the second overall pick.