New Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon is ready to change things up. The team has announced that Ron Francis, the General Manager and a legendary player for the franchise, will transition to a new role as President of Hockey Operations. A search will begin for a new GM, who will report directly to Dundon.
While the move may sound like a promotion, in reality it is not. Dundon more or less made that clear, saying “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.” He adds that “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”, but Dundon apparently wants his own hire to be in charge of roster operations.
Francis served as GM of the Hurricanes for four seasons and has built a solid team, including one of the deepest defensive units in the NHL, but Carolina is on the outside of the playoff picture yet again and have a good chance of extending a league-worst postseason drought to nine years. While Francis has hardly been a bad GM, he hasn’t done enough – he didn’t make a single player-for-player trade in his tenure – and some of his mistakes (read: Scott Darling) have drawn much ire on the local and national scale. The new hire will face the daunting task of both fixing the goaltending situation and somehow acquiring the star forward that Carolina desperately needs. The GM decision could also lead to questions about the job security of head coach Bill Peters. In terms of evaluating talent, the Hurricanes have been known to be one of the leading front offices in terms of analytics, but it is unknown right now whether or not Dundon will continue to steer the team in that direction with his next hire.
Much is still up in the air, but it’s clear that things are changing in Raleigh. For a franchise that has lacked success in the standings and at the box office for too long, that could be a good thing. The Hurricanes will now be one of the more intriguing teams to watch in the approaching off-season.