In case you missed the news earlier this week, the Carolina Hurricanes officially terminated their contract with former general manager Ron Francis. Reassigned to the position of president of hockey operations from the GM position by owner Tom Dundon just weeks prior, the Hurricanes effectively decided to walk away from the former franchise legend and Hockey Hall of Famer member.
While the hockey world was collectively left in shock at the news, the general consensus around the NHL is that Francis won’t be out of work for long. The well respected executive is bound to surface with another team in a prominent role. Like maybe…. the Pittsburgh Penguins?
The Athletic’s Josh Yohe posited earlier this week that Francis could re-join the Penguins at some point, given Francis’ relationship with Penguins owner Mario Lemieux and GM Jim Rutherford. To be clear, there’s no indication that the two sides have discussed any such arrangement. This is merely speculation at this point, but the connection cannot be overlooked.
Don’t be shocked if Ron Francis is employed by the Penguins at some point. Very close with Mario and GMJR.
Francis, of course, is a two time Stanley Cup champion from his playing days with the Penguins and a longtime friend of Lemieux. The pair made up perhaps the most dominant one-two punch at centre of the 1990s. Acquired by the Penguins on March 4, 1991 with Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings, in exchange for Jeff Parker, Zarley Zalapski, and John Cullen. Just months later, the Penguins were hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time in team history.
Francis’ history with Rutherford goes back to his playing days with the Hurricanes where the veteran GM Rutherford signed Francis to a free-agent contract in 1998.
In four years Francis failed to earn a postseason berth for the Hurricanes, but was instrumental in building up the team’s young core by drafting players like Sebastien Aho, Elias Lindholm, Noah Hannifin, Jacob Slavin and trading for leading scorer Teuvo Teravainen.
There’s no denying Francis’ eye for talent, particularly offensive talent and there’s no denying the fact that the former Penguins great could be a very valuable asset for the team moving forward. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.