This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.
1. Ron Francis (639)
2. Rod Brind’Amour (438)
3. Eric Staal (178)
4. Cam Ward (109)
Hartford Whalers fans can take the same delight as Carolina Hurricanes fans, as the face of both renditions of the franchise was voted the greatest player in Hurricanes history. In case you missed it up top, that man is former player and current GM Ron Francis. It’s fitting, after all, that he was known to some as “The Franchise” … at least when he wasn’t topping underrated players lists.
Francis starred for the Whalers from 1981-82 through 1990-91, when he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Francis then made his return to the franchise as a member of the Hurricanes from 1998-99 to 2003-04, the same season that he finished off his career with a forgettable 12 games as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
(Seriously, let’s try to forget that ever happened.)
When you combine Hurricanes and Whalers stats, Francis towers above anyone else historically. He scored a whopping 1,175 points, nearly doubling second place all-time player Eric Staal (who sits at 688 right now). In fact, Francis has more assists (793) than anyone else has points. Francis also ranks second all-time in playoff scoring with 39 points in 62 games (Staal has 43 points in as many postseason contests).
The Hall-of-Famer won two Stanley Cups during his run with the Penguins, yet most think of him as a Whaler/Hurricane … and many still think of Francis when they ponder that franchise.