Moving into his fourth off-season as Carolina Hurricanes General Manager, Ron Francis has every opportunity to make good on his promises.
Believe it or not, Ron Francis has been the general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes for three years. Since day one of his tenure, a lot has changed in how the Canes look, play, and operate. Despite that, the end result has been exactly the same, no playoffs. Entering his 4th off season as GM, its make or break time for the Ronnie Franchise.
All things considered, Francis has really done a remarkable job reassembling the Canes roster and the club’s culture. Before he took over, no one really would’ve predicted Carolina would boast perhaps the best young blue line in hockey. The Hurricanes have become everything Jim Rutherford’s club wasn’t (that’s a good thing).
Incredible smart money management, prudent trading, and stellar drafting have been the hallmarks of the Hurricanes rebuild under Francis. No one looks at the Canes set up and thinks the future isn’t bright. It is, and that is due almost entirely to Ron Francis.
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For all his successes, the end goal still feels distant. There still has been no playoff hockey in Raleigh and frankly, it’s due. The Canes are now the team with longest playoff drought in the NHL. That has to change this upcoming season and it is the last hurdle Francis and company must climb.
In order to do that, it begins/began this summer with the trade for Scott Darling. That was yet another shrewd move by the GM. However, there needs to be more. Not just for the sake of improving the roster, but energizing the fan base.
While not totally his fault, Carolina has lacked the headline grabbing moves to really help draw attention back to the team. For some franchises, that meant the draft lottery. For others, that’s through trades and free agency. It is time for that to happen in Carolina. The Canes have a golden opportunity to really surprise this off-season and it must be taken advantage of.
The team owns too many prospects, picks, and cap space to not make a splash. If something can’t get done that truly makes the team better on paper and excites its fans, a lot of pressure is going to be on Francis to make good on his promises of playoff hockey in the near future.
Of course, there is no indication that Francis won’t do this. In fact, he has been pretty up front about this being a big summer. But, if he can’t deliver this summer and if he can’t get his team over the hump, it might be time to move on from the Canes legend.