Carolina terminates demoted GM Ron Francis’ contract

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes terminated the contract of demoted general manager and Hall of Fame player Ron Francis on Monday.

The Hurricanes announced the move in a three-sentence statement nearly two months after Francis was reassigned to another front-office position — president of hockey operations — while the team began a search for a new GM that will report directly to new owner Tom Dundon.

Francis, 55, is a four-time All-Star who won the Stanley Cup twice with Pittsburgh in the 1990s and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007. He took over as Carolina’s general manager in 2014 after being groomed for the position by former GM Jim Rutherford — who now is trying to win the Cup for a third straight year with the Penguins.

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, have not made the playoffs since 2009. Their nine-year post-season drought is one of the longest in NHL history.

Francis stockpiled draft picks during the three-plus seasons he spent rebuilding the Hurricanes, but he was criticized for not making enough moves to help the current club and failing to orchestrate a consequential player-for-player trade during that time.

One of his biggest off-season acquisitions was a bust, with goalie Scott Darling coming in from Chicago and finishing with an NHL-worst save percentage of .888 in the first year of his four-year, $16.6 million contract.

The Hurricanes have several key vacancies in their management roster. They’re also searching for a coach after Bill Peters opted out of the final year of his contract earlier this month and subsequently was hired by the Calgary Flames.

Carolina was a winner at the draft lottery over the weekend. It holds the No. 2 overall pick in the June draft.

The Hurricanes also announced that Joe Nieuwendyk resigned as a pro scout and adviser for the team. Nieuwendyk, a Hall of Fame centre who played for two decades, previously spent four years as the Dallas Stars’ GM.

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