Yesterday, when the Carolina Hurricanes’ new owner Thomas Dundon decided to move Ron Francis out of his role as GM and into that of President of Hockey Operations, many were confused at what exactly that meant. In the press release, the team announced that they would start a search for a new GM who would report directly to Dundon, leading some to believe that the owner would have final say in basically every aspect of the organization, including hockey transactions.
Today, Dundon sat down with two of hockey’s most respected insiders to explain. Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic (subscription required) and Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet both released interviews with Dundon, that essentially say the same thing. The new owner doesn’t want to have to make every decision, but felt he and Francis had different styles and ways of going about things. Dundon is quoted in Friedman’s piece:
I want to use Ron’s experience and knowledge with a different style and structure. He is a valuable resource. But our styles couldn’t be any different. It is no more complicated than that.
On Sportsnet today, Doug McLean explained that Francis has one more year on his current contract, but was still puzzled by the timing and explanation the Hurricanes gave. In Dundon’s explanations, it seems more like Francis will take over in a more advisory role, much different than the responsibilities usually given to President of Hockey Operations. A new GM, as Dundon explains to LeBrun, will need to fit into the way he does things and be focused on “relationships with other teams and agents and really challenging everything we do and really focusing on the player side” instead of worrying about all aspects of the organization.
It’s an interesting move from an owner just a few months before an important offseason. If the Hurricanes miss the playoffs once again, they’ll extend their league-leading drought to nine seasons and need to make some bold moves to correct it. With a ton of restricted free agents including Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin, and extension candidates in Jeff Skinner and Teuvo Teravainen, the team has huge decisions to make on whether to keep the core in tact or shake it up looking for more success. A new GM will have to make those decisions quickly, especially if Dundon waits until after the season to hire someone.
Also on The Athletic today was a look from James Mirtle (subscription required) at the huge number of GMs that could be out of a job in a month or two. If the Hurricanes are eyeing one of the experienced names as their next leader, or at least want to explore that option, Francis (or Dundon himself) may still have to lead the team through the draft process in June. Dundon certainly hasn’t been slow to act so far, but hiring the next GM of the Hurricanes is no small task.