Seattle NHL team names Hall of Famer Ron Francis as GM

Seattle’s expansion NHL franchise has hired a big name as its first general manager, announcing Thursday that Hall of Famer Ron Francis will take on the role. 

“Ron is the perfect fit for the team we are building,” Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke said in a release. “Ron will make everyone better.”

Francis, 56, played 22 seasons in the league and is still the fifth-leading scorer in NHL history with 1,798 points. He’s best known in recent years for his status as an executive and minority investor with the Carolina Hurricanes, and he served as the team’s GM from 2014 until his termination in 2018.

According to a Seattle Times report earlier in the week, Francis’ deal is “likely” for five years. Seattle, the 32nd franchise in the NHL, begins play in the 2021-22 season.

“I am excited to join NHL Seattle as its first general manager and to work in partnership with Tod, David Bonderman, our ownership group and the NHL Seattle team to continue to build a world-class organization and hockey operation,” Francis said in a release. “Twelve seasons working in player development, coaching, scouting, and management have led me to this moment and this role. I’m excited to bring that experience to Seattle as we build something truly special and historic.”

In addition to Francis’ duties in filling out front office positions and hiring a coach, he’ll also be responsible for helping the team choose a name. The TImes reports a decision on that is expected later this year.

Francis, who won two Stanley Cup championships as a player with the Penguins in the early 1990s, also played with the Whalers, Hurricanes and Maple Leafs.

As GM with the Hurricanes, Francis posted a 137-138-53 mark. He earned kudos for helping develop and acquire players such as Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, although Carolina failed to make the playoffs during his tenure there.