New Carolina Hurricanes majority owner Tom Dundon is just a couple months into his tenure, but he’s already putting his stamp on the club by pulling the rug from underneath a franchise legend.
First victim of the takeover? Hurricane legend and now former general manager Ron Francis, who was removed from his position on Wednesday, though the team is claiming that it is simply shifting the Hockey Hall of Famer to a new role with the team.
Tom Dundon, Owner and Governor of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that Ron Francis will transition into a new role with the team as president of hockey operations. The Hurricanes will conduct a full search for a new general manager #wral
— Mary Dunleavy WRAL (@Mary_Dunleavy) March 8, 2018
Though it appears, by title, that Francis was granted a promotion, it’s actually the opposite. Dundon is ensuring that Francis will simply be a background figure by severing his ability to have any substantial input into personnel decisions with the club going forward. The two have apparently been at odds over philosophy and the like ever since Dundon took over a few months ago, and this move appears to be the first major step in ensuring the hands-on owner will have his say in all day-to-day operations on the hockey side.
“Since I took control of the team, I’ve had a good chance to be around and assess the operations. 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,” Dundon stated Wednesday, via NHL.com.
That’s a pretty blunt way of saying that he doesn’t have an ounce of trust in Francis’ ability to build the club going forward. By all accounts, Dundon is known as a “disrupter” and wants to be at the forefront of all hockey and on-ice decisions.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said Wednesday during the Sabres-Flames broadcast that this has been in the works since before the trade deadline, and there were rumblings this past weekend that Francis was about to resign. He added that Dundon is keen to hire a GM that will report directly to the owner and that he’s eager to set the club in a “new direction.”
This sentiment was one-upped by Sportsnet’s John Shannon, who believes that Dundon is hoping to structure his management so to have a direct impact on the decisions being made on the ice, not just off of it.
“The inside story of the ‘Canes change is that the owner wants to deal directly with the coaches and the players…and have a figure head GM. Dundon wants to do it like Mark Cuban runs the NBA Mavericks,” Shannon wrote via Twitter.
Dundon, a Dallas Business man, signed a purchase agreement to buy controlling interest of the Hurricanes from former owner Peter Karmanos Jr. in December. Francis, meanwhile, has been in a management position with the team for 12 years and has been at the helm as GM and executive vice president for four seasons.
Though the team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2009, Francis has done an admirable job building the team’s young depth both in the NHL and in the minors, especially on the blueline as the Hurricanes boast the of the top young D-corps in all of hockey. Entering Wednesday’s action, the Hurricanes sit just four points out of a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.
There are not many examples throughout hockey history, if any, that an owner taking substantial control of hockey decisions is good idea. But hey, it will probably work out this time, right?
(No, it definitely won’t, but it’ll be fun as hell to watch.)