RALEIGH The architect of the new-look Carolina Hurricanes will be around to see if his team can deliver on high expectations. The team announced a contract extension Tuesday that will keep executive vice president and general manager Ron Francis in Raleigh through the 2018-19 season.”Ron has rebuilt our organization the right way, stocking our team and system with young players who will help this franchise compete for the Stanley Cup year in and year out,” team owner Peter Karmanos said in a statement. “I’m thrilled that he will continue to see the job through. The future is very bright for the Hurricanes in Carolina.”Francis, 53, is entering his third season as general manager of the Hurricanes, but he has been with the team for most of the past 18-plus years since he signed as a player on July 13, 1998, ascending to his current position on April 28, 2014.The Hurricanes improved by 15 points in the standings last season, Francis’ second as general manager. Under his guidance, Carolina has assembled one of the NHL’s youngest lineups and was ranked as having the league’s fifth-best organizational depth by ESPN.com prospect analyst Corey Pronman.One of Francis’ first moves as GM was firing coach Kirk Muller and replacing him with Bill Peters, who is considered one of the game’s rising coaching stars. Francis signed Peters to a contract extension July 27 that will also keep him in the fold through the 2018-19 season.Francis has worked in nearly every facet of the Hurricanes’ hockey operations. After his playing career ended, Francis took on a role with the Raleigh Youth Hockey Association before rejoining the Hurricanes as director of player development in November 2006 under then-GM Jim Rutherford. He was promoted to assistant general manager less than a year later, then 14 months after that got behind the bench as associate coach when Paul Maurice was hired to replace Peter Laviolette as head coach on Dec. 3, 2008.Francis added the front office title of director of player personnel in June 2009 and stayed behind the bench until after the 2010-11 season. Prior to the 2011-12 season he was named director of hockey operations, then promoted to general manager on April 28, 2014, after Rutherford retired from the position.Francis, a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., ranks fifth all-time in NHL scoring, registering 1,789 points in 23 seasons, and won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He won the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward in 1995, was a three-time Lady Byng Trophy winner as the league’s most gentlemanly player (1995, 1998, 2002), and won the King Clancy Trophy given to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community in 2002. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007 and was the first hockey player inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame (2013).
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