RALEIGH — Ron Francis, who brought legitimacy to hockey in North Carolina by signing as a player with his relocated former team and went on to be an assistant coach and part of the front office, is out as general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes.
In a release Wednesday night, the team announced Francis, 55, would be moved to president of hockey operations and there would be a search for a new general manager. That position will report directly to new owner Tom Dundon.
“Since I took control of the team, I’ve had a good chance to be around and assess the operations,” Dundon said in the release. “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.”
Francis — a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame who played for the Hartford Whalers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs in his playing career — was general manager for the past four seasons. But he failed to return the team to the postseason in his first three seasons and the Hurricanes are on track to again miss the playoffs.
Coach Bill Peters was hired by Francis in one of his first moves as GM, but he too has been unable to turn on the franchise, which is on the cusp of its ninth straight season out of the playoffs — the longest drought in the NHL.
Both Francis and Peters received contract extensions through the 2018-19 season last year.