We learn more about Ron Francis, who was named general manager of the Seattle NHL expansion franchise on Thursday.
Thursday was a big day for hockey fans in Seattle, as the franchise unveiled their first ever general manager. Ron Francis has been charged with the task of building the roster in time for when the team takes to the ice for the 2021-22 NHL season.
Some might be surprised by how soon Seattle chose their GM, but it is actually a smart move to give Francis as much time as possible to put together a staff and build a solid foundation. The franchise needs to make sure they are fully prepared for the NHL Expansion Draft, which will take place in June 2021.
As you’d expect, Francis was delighted to get the opportunity to build a competitive team in Seattle. As per Andy Eide of NHL.com, the 56-year-old said:
“I’m absolutely humbled to be the first GM of this franchise. This is going to be a fantastic opportunity. We have a blank canvas. Sure, it’s a daunting task and a lot of work but it’s a unique challenge that you don’t get every day, because not every sports team gets to start from scratch.”
While Francis is extremely well-know in NHL circles, there will still be plenty of people in the Seattle area who are unfamiliar with him. As such, here are five things you should know about the franchise’s first ever GM:
1) Francis was selected fourth overall by the Hartford Whalers in the 1981 NHL draft. He went on to play a total of 23 seasons, for the Whalers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs.
2) If it’s possible for a player with Francis’ resume, he’s arguably underrated in respect of his NHL career. Consider that to this day, he has the second-most career assists in league history, behind a certain Wayne Gretzky.
3) Regardless of whether or not you believe the former center is underrated, he also has the fifth-most overall points in league history. He won two Stanley Cups during his playing career — both with the Penguins — and was named as one of the 100 greatest players in NHL history in 2017, as part of the league’s centennial celebrations.
4) This is not Francis’ first time of being an NHL GM, having also held the position with the Hurricanes between 2014-18. Seattle hockey fans will be hoping for better results however, as the ‘Canes did not qualify for the playoffs in any of his four seasons in charge.
5) The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native was also a minority owner and the president of hockey operations during his time in Carolina. Overall, his experience and leadership at various levels in the NHL should prove invaluable for a Seattle franchise aiming to come right out of the gate strong when the 2021-22 NHL season begins.
What is your take on Francis as the new general manager of Seattle’s NHL team? Did the franchise make the right choice or not, and why? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.