Hurricanes’ Waddell resigns; search for president, GM underway

Eric Tulsky has been named interim general manager

Hurricanes president and general manager Don Waddell stepped down as from the organization Friday. (Steven Senne / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — Prepare yourself for a wild summer.

Plenty of changes were coming to the Carolina Hurricanes, who have a dozen significant contributors — both unrestricted and restricted free agents — who need new contracts. Now they need a new team president and general manager as well.

Don Waddell, who has been team president for the last decade and served as the Hurricanes’ general manager for the past six years, resigned from his positions Friday amid news he had interviewed with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“This morning, I spoke with Tom (Dundon) and informed him that I have come to the decision that now is the time for me to move to the next chapter of my career,” Waddell said in a release. “I have loved my experiences in the Triangle over the past 10 years, and together with a strong team, on and off the ice, we have accomplished many great victories. I am grateful for the support I have received from so many loyal Caniacs. This organization is in strong, capable hands and well-positioned for the future.”

Waddell’s departure creates two holes for the organization. He ushered the Hurricanes through the franchise’s sale from Peter Karmanos Jr. to Tom Dundon and continued in his role as team president when he added general manager to his list of responsibilities.

While Waddell served as the face of the team’s hockey operations since 2018, Carolina’s front office has been a collaborative effort since Dundon took over as owner.

The team’s assistant general managers, Eric Tulsky and Darren Yorke, have both had a seat at the table — along with Dundon and coach Rod Brind’Amour — in hockey operations and will be candidates for the GM job.

Tulsky received the interim general manager tag upon Waddell’s departure, and in nearly a decade with the team has built a reputation as one of the smartest minds in hockey.

His data-driven analysis permeates every aspect of the Hurricanes’ decision-making, from examining player effectiveness and the team’s style of play to influencing contract offers and managing the salary cap.

Tulsky rightfully gets labeled as one of the pioneers of hockey analytics, but he’s also the team’s head of professional scouting, including scouting players himself.

He was considered for GM openings in both Chicago and Pittsburgh in recent years, and had Kyle Dubas not parted ways with Toronto and become available last offseason, Tulsky could very well be the Penguins’ GM right now.

Yorke, who has been with the franchise since 2010, has revamped the team’s amateur scouting department, emphasizing attention to detail and work ethic in making Carolina one of the NHL’s best teams during the draft.

The Hurricanes’ surplus of prospects allowed them to land Jake Guentzel at the trade deadline without giving up their top young talent, and Yorke has consistently turned surplus picks into useable assets. Yorke turned the Carolina’s much-maligned trade of Jeff Skinner to Buffalo — the Hurricanes received second-, third- and sixth-round picks, along with throw-in prospect Cliff Pu — into Pyotr Kochetkov and Alexander Nikishin.

Carolina could also look outside of the organization for its next GM. In its release, the team said that Tulsky’s interim promotion — and Yorke being there to “support Tulsky with managerial duties” — comes with a “full search for a permanent general manager.”

The Hurricanes will also need to find someone to take over Waddell’s duties as team president. Keep an eye on Mike Forman, the team’s chief marketing officer who has been with the team for more than a decade and helped Carolina reestablish its brand after nearly a decade-long playoff drought.

Regardless of how the searches to replace Waddell conclude, Dundon and Brind’Amour — who signed a multiyear contract to remain the team’s coach earlier in the week — will continue to have a big say in hockey operations.