In the recent week, the Canes have made a splash with important changes. Last Wednesday, they demoted general manager Ron Francis to a new position and started to conduct a search to replace him. While Francis will remain with the team as president of hockey operations, his replacement as general manager will report directly to new owner Tom Dundon.
As we reported this week, as they promoted Francis and kept him within the organization, Dundon can save a bit of face while still giving the team a new direction. There had been no real indication of who might replace Francis or what the team’s timeline is for finding a replacement, until TSN insider Pierre LeBrun identified an important number of candidates who were contacted by Dundon over the past few days, as he publicly posted on his Twitter account:
"Hearing that Carolina had preliminary phone call with Mike Futa, from the Los Angeles Kings, on Friday; also believe Hurricanes have reached out to former Canucks assistant general manager Laurence Gilman. Belief is Carolina has reached out to the Nashville Predators regarding Paul Fenton and Tampa Bay Lightning regarding Julien Brisebois, obvious names..."
However, one of the Hurricanes' top candidate has decided to inform the team that he simply is not interested in taking over as a general manager in the National Hockey League. NHL insider Elliotte Friedman has just revealed on Tuesday that Los Angeles Kings assistant general manager Mike Futa "has “respectfully withdrawn” his name from consideration for the CAR GM job."
There has been a lot of chatter in the league, and NHL insiders have been reporting a lot of movement as Dundon is on the hunt.
“Julien Brisebois has something in his contract that does not allow him to go… Gilman doesn’t need permission, and the other three have all been given permission to go,” reports Friedman.
“There’s a sense there that… [Dundon] may want to move quickly. He wants a critical thinker and that’s the main reason Francis is out. He wants deal makers, someone who can make the deal quickly. That means that Fenton and Futa are probably at the top of the list,” said Friedman’s Sportsnet colleague Nick Kypreos.
One thing’s for sure, Dundon is wasting no time in shaping the team in his image. “Dundon himself has been very involved in this process making calls and soliciting advice from others,” added Chris Johnston.
However, there seems to be no way for Dundon to convince Futa, who is reportedly earning a lot of money in Los Angeles. The fact that the Kings have won two championships in the last six years and are now back fighting for a playoff spot might allow weigh in the balance for Futa, who was named AGM in April last year.
As many experts note, Futa is regarded as one of the brightest minds not yet given the reins of an NHL franchise. He has a scouting background and previously worked as GM in the Ontario Hockey League. He almost landed Jason Botterill's job as Buffalo Sabres' general manager before he took over the reins of the club.