The Carolina Hurricanes announced today that they have officially terminated the contract of President of Hockey Operations Ron Francis, who had previously been moved out of his role as General Manager. Joe Nieuwendyk, pro scout and advisor for the team, has also resigned.
Francis had recently been asked to work from home according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, a clear sign that the team no longer wanted his presence associated with the team. It’s an unfortunate end for someone who was a Hurricanes legend when he played, but has failed to bring any playoff success to the team during his tenure in the front office.
The Hurricanes haven’t made the postseason since 2008-09, and finished with no more than 87 points in each of the seven seasons since Francis was hired as Director of Hockey Operations.
Despite those struggles, many would point to the relatively young roster and full prospect pipeline as positives for the Hurricanes and Francis, though at some point that needs to translate into on-ice success. New owner Thomas Dundon is currently conducting a search for the team’s next GM, and will now be able to tempt them with the second-overall pick in the upcoming draft.
Francis is now free to find another role somewhere around the league, and if he wants them there will likely be several opportunities. Likewise, Nieuwendyk still commands plenty of respect in the hockey world and could land on his feet somewhere despite the struggles he had when GM of the Dallas Stars.
Currently Don Waddell is operating the Hurricanes as interim GM, and just last night there was a report that no one was close to taking the job. Several high profile candidates have removed their names from consideration, and it’s clear that Dundon will not rush into a decision. Meanwhile, the team is also looking for a head coach after Bill Peters exercised his out clause recently to take a job with the Calgary Flames.
Carolina is one of the most interesting teams to watch this summer, as there are plenty of decisions to be made on the future of the team and how to get back to the playoffs. With Jeff Skinner just a year away from free agency and several high profile restricted free agents looking for new deals, the team could look drastically different in relatively short order.