RALEIGH, N.C. – Being a general manager in the National Hockey League (NHL) requires patience and sticking to a plan.
At least that’s what Carolina Hurricanes executive vice president and general manager Ron Francis believes.
He said as much when asked during the team’s recent presser at PNC Arena on Wednesday.
“I think the biggest thing is patience, I would say,” Francis began.
“We have a vision, we have a plan. We wanna’ build from the foundation and build it up. We wanna’ develop all of our prospects, so when they’re ready to step in, they’re there. If we get to the point down the road where we have that sort of pipeline of talent, then when a tough decision is made, we have to keep a player, overpay for a player, or move him, we have the pieces that can fill in, so we don’t miss a beat.”
Before speaking with the media, the Hurricanes rolled out three quick releases on more procedural and minor signings versus making a splash with a big-name newsmaker when the NHL Free Agency signing period began.
He did it with honesty and a steady poise.
“We looked at a lot of trade scenario potentials,” Francis said.
“We did look at some of the free agents. Our message hasn’t changed, in the sense, that we talked about it in the past, we wanna’ make sure we’re if we’re adding a guy through free agency or through trade, it’s the right piece, and it’s not a situation that blocks some of our young guys from having the opportunity of moving forward. We do like we have a lot of good pieces in the pipeline and we wanna’ make sure we develop those guys to get that opportunity when they’re ready to play.”
The Semin buyout created the biggest wave of upcoming change to that point, but that didn’t rule anything else getting done in Francis’ mind.
“I think we’re constantly talkin’, we were lookin’ at things yesterday, lookin’ at things today,” he said.
“Do I think anything will happen by the end of the day? Probably not, but you never know when the phone rings, things can move quickly. We’ll continue to look, if not today, but going forward.”
Nothing significant has happened since, but that doesn’t mean it won’t.
It’s all part of being patient and part of the plan he and his staff are working from – growing the farm system and continuing to find more prospects and adding more scouting staff to do so.
“We have plans to add a few pieces,” Francis said.
“We added another amateur scout and we are looking at possibly doin’ some things especially on the European front to get some more people on the ground over there. Those’ll happen hopefully in the next few weeks in that regard.”
Is Francis happy with where the Hurricanes roster currently sits?
Yes, but the job is not nearly close to being done.
“I think we’re a better roster today than we were a week-and-a-half ago,” he said.
“Is there areas I would like to improve – absolutely. We’ll continue to try and work on that. Whether we can accomplish that or not before the season starts, time will tell. I’m always to makin’ us better if we can.”
As the team prepares to host 29 invited prospects at its camp starting next week, the Carolina GM has to yet to announce who will lead the team’s AHL affiliate club, the Charlotte Checkers, for the upcoming season.
It’s an important hire considering that a big part of what Francis has been doing since he assumed his position on April 28, 2014 is signing a majority of the team’s selections from the two drafts he’s resided over.
“We should have that in place hopefully by the end of the week,” Francis said.
“I’d like to have that in place and those individuals in here next week at our Prospect Camp to meet our young guys and get workin’ with them as well. In our minds, have concluded our interview process and we’ve just gotta’ make the final decision. We’ve just had a lot of things on our plate the last 48 hours.”
Yes, it has been a busy week for Francis, but one that has shown a steady stream of calculated work that continues daily.
It’s all part of the plan to reinsert the Hurricanes into the daily conversation of being a playoff team, and not one that perennially isn’t.
“It’s gonna’ take us some time to get there,” Francis concluded.
“The biggest challenge I would say for my management team and myself is just being patient and staying with the plan as we build it the right way.”