Ron Francis

Raleigh News

Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon content with hands-on approach


Tom Dundon was quite clear when he bought the Carolina Hurricanes.

“I’m not patient. It’s not going to work for me to be patient,” Dundon told reporters upon the announcement that he has acquired the team.

And while he also said he wasn’t just going to come in and expect to know more than then-general manager Ron Francis, his lack of patience got the better of him on Wednesday when he removed Francis from his post. 

Dundon ‘promoted’ Francis to the president of hockey operations, while saying that whatever new GM was hired would report directly to Dundon himself, bypassing Francis in his new role.

Dundon has his hands in all of the cookie jars at the moment, something he seems to be quite happy with.

“I think it’s appropriate right now that I challenge and question everything we do, so we can get a process that everyone buys into and we’re comfortable with,” Dundon told’s Tom Gulliti on Thursday. “Once we do, I would be less likely to be involved with things that I think are working properly.”

On Thursday, Dundon entertained several calls from the media, including Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. Friedman said that during his conversation with Dundon, it became apparent that while Dundon and Francis both agreed the team needed to improve, the route in which that improvement was to go was a matter of differing opinions.

“I want to use Ron’s experience and knowledge with a different style and structure,” Dundon told Friedman on Thursday. “He is a valuable resource. But our styles couldn’t be any different. It is no more complicated than that.”

Despite his very hands-on approach thus far for the Hurricanes, Dundon told Friedman that he wants doesn’t want to make the decisions from a GM standpoint.

“I think what I’m looking for, is we have to be comfortable with each other,” Dundon said. “That’s the most important thing. I actually like to disagree and argue. I don’t want someone to come in and just do what I say, and I don’t want to make decisions. Someone to create a structure of how something is a good idea, and now we are going to get it done.”

Friedman had a thought on one line in particular in that quote:

One thing stands out from that answer: “I don’t want to make decisions.” In the aftermath of Francis’s redistribution, the sense was 100 percent opposite, that Dundon did want final say.

Who Carolina’s new GM will be is up in the air, but Dundon told Gulitti that it likely won’t be an analytics-first guy.

“Because I don’t think that works,” Dundon said. “I think you need a hockey guy that can work with the analytics people to challenge their thoughts. ‘Hey, I think this. Can you show me something that proves or disproves or makes me or less comfortable with what I’ve done?’”

And what of head coach Bill Peters?

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

The Buzzer: Sheary leads Penguins to Metro summit; Monahan notches 30th

Getty Images

Players of the Night:

Conor Sheary, Pittsburgh Penguins: Sheary scored twice to help Penguins come from a 2-1 deficit to win 5-2 and move atop the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins have won three straight, Evgeni Malkin moved into a tie for second in goal scoring with his 38th, and Sidney Crosby recorded his 1,100th NHL point.

Sean Monahan, Calgary Flames: Boring Sean scored his 30th goal of the season (which you will see below), the second time in his career that he’s hit the mark. Monahan is now four points shy of matching his career-best 63 points. Barring injury or a massive slump, it looks like Monahan will set a new career high in goals and points.

Derek Stepan and Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes: Each had a goal and an assist in the game. Stepan scored with 58 seconds left in regulation to secure a 2-1 win for the Coyotes, who are 7-2-1 in their past 10 games. The Coyotes are tied with the Buffalo Sabres in the race for the worst record in the NHL this season.

Highlights of the Night:

Tic, tac, goal:

Crosby’s 1,100th point came off an awkward, and impressive, one-timer from Sheary:

Johnny Hockey to Boring Sean:

Factoids of the Night:

Make it 49 games:

News of the Night:

The Carolina Hurricanes removed GM Ron Francis from his job, promoted him to the president of hockey operations, and then said that the new GM would bypass Francis and report directly to owner Tom Dundon.

Mike Babcock and Toronto Maple Leafs fans may think it needs to change now, but NHL insider Darren Dreger says the goaltender interference rule is likely not going anywhere before the playoffs, no matter how loud Babcock whines:


Flames 5, Buffalo 1

Penguins 5, Flyers 2

Coyotes 2, Canucks 1

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Ron Francis out as GM of the Carolina Hurricanes


In the thick of the playoff race, the Carolina Hurricanes have removed general manager Ron Francis from his post.

Francis, according to The News & Observer, will become the team’s president of hockey operations.

The Hurricanes were four points adrift of the second wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference as of Wednesday.

“Since I took control of the team, I’ve had a good chance to be around and assess the operations,” Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon said in a release on Wednesday. “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.

“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.”

The Hurricanes said whatever new GM they hire will report directly to Dundon, bypassing the team’s new president of hockey ops — Francis.

Francis, 55, was handed the role as GM, replacing Jim Rutherford. Rutherford has gone on to win back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

France played 1,731 NHL games over his 25-year career, including 1,186 games with the Hartford Whalers/Hurricanes organization.

It’s been an up and down season for the Hurricanes, but they’re still in the running for a playoff berth. The Hurricanes own the distinction of having the longest playoff drought among the 31 NHL teams. Carolina hasn’t played a playoff game since 2009.

Francis’ trade history is, well, very light.

Francis went out and signed former Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling in the offseason, giving him a four-year deal worth north of $16 million. It was a risky move at the time, given the question marks surrounding Darling’s ability to take on the role of a starting goalie.

And it hasn’t worked out.

Darling owns the worst save percentage in the NHL among starters with a .889.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Under Pressure: Ron Francis

With two key members of the franchise heading into the final year of their respective contracts, ‘Canes GM Ron Francis is under pressure to make some big decisions in Carolina.

Both Eric Staal and Cam Ward are set to become unrestricted free agents after the 2015-16 season. Both players were first-round picks of the ‘Canes and have spent their entire careers in the Carolina organization.

“We’ve had some conversations with Rich (Curran). When Eric and Cam get back into town, I’m sure we’ll have conversations with them,” Francis said. “I feel pretty comfortable with my relationship with Rich, and with both players that when the time is right and the numbers are right that we can get something done.

“Am I in a hurry to get this done this week or before camp or into the season? I really don’t have a timeframe on it. It’ll get done when it gets done.”

Ward, who went 22-24-5 in 51 appearances last season while posting a 2.40 G.A.A. and a .910 save percentage, is no stranger to being the subject of trade rumors. The 31-year-old expected to be dealt last summer.

“There was a lot of chatter about it last year and I learned a lot from that too,” Ward told PHT in January. “(Last) summer I was really able to take a break mentally and realize that I can only control what I can control – that’s just having fun and enjoying the game of hockey.”

Staal scored 23 goals and 54 points in 77 games last season registering his lowest totals since his rookie season.

“We’ll look at the whole situation and try and figure out what’s best,” Francis said. “As we said from Day 1, it has to make sense for our organization. We always talk about the term of the contract and the money in the contract – making sure we’re not blocking things going forward either.”

In addition to Staal and Ward, Francis will have to make decisions on Nathan Gerbe and Riley Nash up front. The only defenseman set to become an unrestricted free agent is John-Michael Liles while Eddie Lack is also headed into the final year of his contract.

Related: Poll: What should the ‘Canes do with Eric Staal?

Poll: What should the ‘Canes do with Eric Staal?


With captain Eric Staal entering the final year of his seven-year, $57.75 million contract, GM Ron Francis has a big decision to make.

Does he ink the 30-year-old to a new multi-year extension? Or does he deal the former first-round pick in the hopes it returns some scoring help?

Staal is set to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2015-16 season.

He could be eyeing another significant payday on the open market, especially given what the likes of Jason Spezza got out of Dallas and Ryan Kesler signed for in Anaheim. All three are in their early 30’s.

“We’ll look at the whole situation and try and figure out what’s best,” Francis told the team’s website recently. “As we said from Day 1, it has to make sense for our organization. We always talk about the term of the contract and the money in the contract – making sure we’re not blocking things going forward either.”

Carolina’s offensive woes have been well documented.

If Francis is to deal the former second overall pick, he’ll likely be seeking young forward prospects with offensive upside in return.

Given the youth movement on the blue line, it might be the right time to deal Staal for some youth up front.

OK, time to vote: