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 email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck