Karmanos keeps Hurricanes management changes in the family

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Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

Peter Koutroumpis – editor@trianglesportsnet.com

RALEIGH, N.C. – Carolina Hurricanes majority owner and NHL governor Peter Karmanos doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to talking about the philosophy he follows in operating the franchise.

He believes in loyalty and he believes it comes from working within a structure and developing people to move up accordingly.

Thus, it was no surprise that the announcement he made on Monday that promoted Hall of Famer Ron Francis, a nine-year executive and former captain and player with the team, to the position of executive vice president and general manager, along with assistant GM’s, Mike Vellucci and Brian Tatum, was in line with his and the organization’s operating principles.

All three have worked within and risen through the ranks of the Carolina franchise and bring considerable organizational knowledge and experience in assuming their new positions.

“I don’t know how important it is (to promote from within), but it’s the way I would rather do things,” Karmanos said.

“You do that same thing in business and you know people talk about succession planning and things like that. I think it’s the right way to do it. Somebody asked the question about ‘fresh eyes’. We are sort of bringing fresh eyes along. With Vellucci, he’s been with the organization for over 20 years, and he’s seen it from a totally different point of view. I think his advice will be very, very important for Ronny. Then having Jim available for how something was done and why is just as important. I’d hate to be in the position where some of my fellow owners are where you just fired the coach and general manager and you’re bringing in somebody totally different.”

Vellucci, most recently the Plymouth Whalers head coach and general manager, brings 23 years of management experience to assume the reigns of all hockey operations and to be Francis’ right hand in that regard.

“There’s gonna’ be a learning curve, but I don’t think it’s gonna’ be that drastic,” Vellucci said.

“Contracts and negotiations will be at a higher pace obviously, but as far as how to run an organization and what kind of players, I’ve been involved with our scouting team forever. I scout, I watch games, I pick players and I think the history of the Plymouth Whalers and our organization of the guys who have come through – James Neal, Tyler Seguin, you just go on down the list – we’ve had some really good NHL players. Hopefully, I had some small part in that, but I was definitely part of the drafting of those guys and cultivating them to be good players.”

For Tatum, there’s no one better who knows the administrative side of hockey operations and many other parts of the organization that will be instrumental in being the other half of Francis’ management team.

He agreed with the concept that developing from within has helped him to be part of a successful organization that has strived to be competitive the entire time he’s been with it.

“I think you can be successful from within,” Tatum said.

“You’ve got people who care about the organization, who spend their livelihood whether Ronnie as a player or Jim being with the organization for over 20 years. Those things tend to lend themselves to success.”

“I’ve been around it for 16, 17 years and I have a comfort level with all of our staffs and everybody I work with,” Tatum continued.

“That’s a good way to characterize it. There is that familial feel. That’s how you’re gonna’ be successful – when everybody cares about each other – that’s what’s gonna’ make itself (turn) into success.”

As Francis, Vellucci, and Tatum embark on the journey to make the Hurricanes a regularly-contending playoff team in search of a second Stanley Cup, they’ll continue to answer the critical questions that their owner did on Monday.

Why have they missed the playoffs for five straight seasons?

“It’s one thing we haven’t made the playoffs in the last five years, but at least each one of those five years we thought we had a good enough team to make the playoffs,” Karmanos said.

“In 2009 we went to the conference final. We just had a couple last-game-of-the-season losses where if we hadn’t lost those games, I feel we would have had a very competitive playoff team. Then we’ve had some tough injury years. That stuff happens, but I think the way we’re doing it is the best way.”

As the Hurricanes continued to conduct business the ‘Carolina way’, Karamanos agreed with the concept that the process involved moving at a marathon pace rather than that of a sprint.

However, he quickly added with a smile, “sometimes someone keeps moving the target.”