Ron Francis

Hurricanes aren’t rushing to name new coach

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It’s been over a month since Ron Francis made firing head coach Kirk Muller one of his first acts as the Carolina Hurricanes’ new general manager. Francis still hasn’t found his replacement and appears to be in no rush to come to a decision.

“I’m more focused on trying to be thorough and comfortable with the guy we get than get this behind me,” Francis said, per the News & Observer. He added that there are still people he wants to interview and that might include two guys that aren’t available yet.

Los Angeles Kings assistant coach John Stevens and New York Rangers assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson are both believed to be contenders for the job, but Francis can’t talk to either until the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final, which could potentially end on Wednesday, but might last until June 18.

The fact that Francis’ old boss, new Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, fired Dan Bylsma changed the landscape as well. Now there’s a Stanley Cup champion and Jack Adams winner available.

The Florida Panthers have already reportedly reached out to Bylsma and Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning called him “an interesting name. It’s fair to assume he’s attracted Francis’ attention as well

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.