National Hockey League

NHL Seattle names Ron Francis as first GM

NHL Seattle named Ron Francis the first General Manager in franchise history on Thursday.

“After seven months of due diligence, research, conversations, interviews and evaluation, we are thrilled to announce Ron as our GM,” said NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke.

After a Hall of Fame playing career, Francis worked his way up in the Carolina Hurricanes organization. He took on roles in player development, scouting, coaching and operations over 12 years. He was named General Manager in 2014.

Long-time Carolina GM Jim Rutherford spotted Francis’ potential during the new Seattle GM’s playing days: “His credibility and leadership qualities were apparent to players, coaches and management,” said Rutherford this week.

Rutherford, who won a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006 and two more in Pittsburgh (2016 and 2017), offered Francis a role as director of player development.

“It was impressive,” recalled Rutherford. “When he retired as a player, he didn’t have to work. But he wanted to be a difference-maker.”

With the Hurricanes

>> As Carolina GM, Francis drafted star center Sebastian Aho, who was a breakout performer in the 2019 playoffs, in the second round of the 2015 draft.

>> Signed Hurricanes captain Justin Williams as a free agent. Williams was pivotal leader in the 2019 postseason and mentored a young team along the way.

>> Played a key role in drafting young standout defensemen Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce, plus forward Brock McGinn.

>> Signed Slavin and Pesce to contract extensions in 2017. Both are widely praised as excellent moves.

>> Traded for Teuvo Teravainen, who scored seven goals in 11 playoff games during the Hurricanes’ run to the Eastern Conference Final.

Player Awards and Accomplishments

>> 5th all-time scoring with 1,798 points – over a point per game for his career

>> Tallied 44 points (15g, 29a) in 45 games during back-to-back Stanley Cup wins with Pittsburgh

>> First-ballot Hall of Famer 2007, along with Mark Messier, Al MacInnis, Scott Stevens

>> Lady Byng Trophy winner for sportsmanship, high standard of play (1995, 1998, 2002)

>> Selke Trophy winner for top defensive forward (1995)

>> First player to win Lady Byng and Selke in same season (1995)

>> Led Carolina to surprise appearance in 2002 Stanley Cup Final

>> Signed by Carolina to five-year contract at age 35 and was re-signed to a two-year extension at age 40.

Community Champion

>> King Clancy Trophy winner for leadership on and off ice and humanitarian contribution in community (2002).

>> NHL Foundation Player Award winner (2002).

>> Founder of the Ron Francis Night Out program.

>> Previous chairman of the Sault Ste. Marie Ontario Special Olympics Summer Games.

>> Previous board member of the Carolina Hurricane’s Kids ‘n Community Foundation.

What They’re Saying

“Ron’s GM potential goes back to his playing days and his superior leadership qualities. We signed him to a five-year contract in Carolina at age 35 because we were trying to build a hockey market. He was exactly who we needed on and off the ice. He still had lots of hockey in him and didn’t disappoint. In fact, I signed him to a contract for two more years when he was 40.”

— Jim Rutherford, Pittsburgh Penguins GM and former Carolina Hurricanes GM

“Ron is an intelligent manager who knows the kind of players he wants. He will draft and acquire players with a high-hockey IQ who understand how to play together, think a couple plays ahead and know the right way to play the game. He looks for players with high-level skills, such as skating, puck protection and stick-handling.”

— Mike Vellucci, Head Coach, AHL’s champion Charlotte Checkers and former assistant GM to Francis

“Ron is the perfect fit for the team we are building. Ron will make everyone better.”

— Tod Leiweke, CEO, NHL Seattle

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