RALEIGH, N.C. – Carolina Hurricanes majority owner Tom Dundon put any concern of president and general manager Don Waddell leaving the organization to rest on Monday.
In a prepared release, Dundon reiterated Waddell’s value in leading hockey operations at PNC Arena with a three-year contract extension.
“Don’s leadership and experience are invaluable to our organization and I’m happy we were able reach an extension,” Dundon stated per the team’s release delivered in the early afternoon.
“Don and I have a great relationship and he is someone I trust. I’m excited to continue to build a championship team with Don.”
The 60-year-old Waddell, a seasoned NHL executive, had taken on the duties of general manager on May 8, 2018 and in his first season in that role helped the Hurricanes reach the playoffs for the first time in 10 years as the team reached the Eastern Conference Final.
As a result of his effort and the team’s accomplishment, Waddell was named one of three finalists for the 2018-19 NHL General Manager of the Year Award.
“I’m thrilled to sign an extension with the Hurricanes and I look forward to continuing the success we experienced last season,” Waddell was quoted saying in the same release.
“We have a first-class organization, a great fan base and a team we feel is built to contend for the Stanley Cup. My family and I are excited to stay in Raleigh for years to come.”
When temptation calls
A week ago, the situation was different.
No one knew whether Waddell, who continued to work without a contract, a piece of paper that apparently Dundon doesn’t believe in using in his business practices, would stay or go.
“Tom and I have a good relationship; it’s not like this has been a mystery to either one of us,” Waddell said in a teleconference with local media following the day’s announcement.
“Tom knew my feelings that I didn’t want to leave here. I think it got blown out of proportion, about the whole contract. The contract expired – Tom hadn’t a need to talk about it. I knew in time we’d work it out. And that brings us to where we are today.”
Though it ended positively for the Hurricanes to retain their GM, it potentially was up in the air before then.
There was tremendous curiosity generated locally and league-wide when it was reported that the Minnesota Wild, currently seeking to hire a new GM, called Waddell in for an interview.
“It was fine,” he said of the process he went through with the Wild.
“I know their team, I know what their challenges are. One morning we met and that was basically the last conversation we had about it. I’ve been through this before, with other opportunities, but at the end of the day, I’m where I belong.”
According to Waddell, Dundon was fine with following up on what might or might not have been a better situation for himself.
“I told Don he had a job as long as he wanted it,” Dundon said.
“I thought it would take something extremely compelling for him wanting to leave, but if there was something better for him in this world that was that much better than our situation, whether he had a contract or not, I’d be rootin’ for him. So, a contract doesn’t help me that much, but given the situation we’re in, and if it made everyone more comfortable, then we just did it.”
Waddell pointed out that he had worked on one-year contracts with other organizations and wasn’t worried that not having a new one would end his employment in Carolina.
“I never worried about it,” Waddell said.
“I knew that in time we’d figure out something, whether it be in a contract for NHL purposes, or just an agreement that it was just going to be worked out.”
Guaranteed to be around for three more years, at least, the Hurricanes GM will focus on working with his boss to produce winning results.
“He can get fired tomorrow or he could stay for 10 years,” Dundon said.
“I value Don, I enjoy working with him. He’s gonna be here for a long time, and he’s an important part of what we’re doin’. I’m glad this (contract) makes everybody feel better.”
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