Hurricanes Change Direction Under New Owner, Reassign GM Francis
The Hurricanes are moving Exec VP & GM Ron Francis to President of Hockey Operations and will "conduct a search" to find a GM "to replace him," according to Luke DeCock of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. Francis' replacement will report directly to Owner Tom Dundon, who said that he wanted to get a "greater diversity of voices on the hockey side." Dundon: "We're just trying to break up the hockey stuff. We're undermanned there. We could stand to continue to evolve, in a good way, to get more throughout." Since being promoted to GM in '14, Francis has a 130-130-53 record. The Hurricanes appeared "primed to make a leap forward this season, but Francis' choice of Scott Darling as the Hurricanes' new No. 1 goaltender has been an abject disaster." Francis also signed C Victor Rask to a six-year, $24M contract extension, but Rask has been "one of the team's most disappointing players and is a candidate for a buyout this summer." Coach Bill Peters "remains in place, as do the scouting and analytics staffs Francis bolstered" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 3/8).
CUT FROM A DIFFERENT CLOTH: DeCock notes the decision to reassign Francis was as "much about personality as it was performance." Given the "differences in approach" between Francis and Dundon, this was "probably inevitable once Dundon bought the team, barring a breakthrough second half." That "hasn't happened." Big changes are "needed to put this team over the top, and Dundon felt more comfortable bringing in someone else to make them." That is Dundon's "style: bold moves and sweeping changes." He is going to "invest heavily in analytics on both the hockey and business sides, looking for any advantage to press." Patience has "not been a hallmark of his business history" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 3/8). YAHOO SPORTS' Kyle Cantlon wrote Dundon is already "putting his stamp on the club by pulling the rug from underneath a franchise legend." He is "ensuring that Francis will simply be a background figure." The two have apparently "been at odds over philosophy and the like ever since Dundon took over a few months ago, and this move appears to be the first major step in ensuring the hands-on owner will have his say in all day-to-day operations on the hockey side" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/7).