Francis among new Canes investors

Hall of Famer says he wanted to ‘help the franchise’

calexander@newsobserver.comSeptember 14, 2012 

BRUINS HURRICANES

Carolina Hurricanes captain Ron Francis, left, celebrates with teammate Shane Willis, right, after scoring his 500th career goal in the first period against the Boston Bruins Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2002, at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Raleigh, N.C. Francis, who became the fifth player in NHL history to score 500 goals, reached the mark in his 1,000th career game.(AP Photo/Grant Halverson)

GRANT HALVERSON — Associated Press

The Carolina Hurricanes have added new investment partners and the group includes Ron Francis, a man whose jersey number was retired by the franchise.

Francis played for the Hurricanes and has served as assistant general manager and associate head coach. He’s now vice president of hockey operations.

The three partners announced Wednesday by Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. were Playmakers Management, LLC (Francis); Greengarden DRC, LLC (Eliza Kraft Olander and Brian McHenry); and Ron de Lange. The other two investment partners chose to keep their partnerships private.

“It is very encouraging that these locally-based investors feel so strongly about our franchise and its future,” Karmanos said in a statement. “We are proud to have this group of prominent North Carolinians involved with our team.”

Francis, who retired as a player in 2005 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007, said loyalty to Karmanos was one reason he chose to invest in the team.

“Pete Karmanos was good to me, signing me as a free agent and later keeping me in the organization and allowing me to gain a lot of (management) experience,” Francis said in an interview. “It was important to give a little back and help Pete.”

It’s the second time Karmanos, who relocated the franchise to North Carolina in 1997, has added investors. Last November, he welcomed a group of 10 partners, which included Hurricanes president and general manager Jim Rutherford and Michael Kahn, owner of the Charlotte Checkers.

“I’d go to a lot of the investor meetings and presentations, and the more I listened, it made sense to me to help the franchise,” Francis said. “We see this franchise getting better and better. We want to grow our game and grow our business in this area.”

Eliza Kraft Olander, who is retired, focuses on community development and philanthropy. Brian McHenry is the president of McHenry Software. The two are involved in national and local charitable organizations.

De Lange is the president and CEO of Tekelec, a mobile internet solutions business in Morrisville.

Francis scored 549 goals and earned 1,249 assists in 23 NHL seasons with Hartford, Pittsburgh, Carolina and Toronto. He twice won Stanley Cup with the Penguins, helped the Hurricanes reach the Stanley Cup finals in 2002 and had his No. 10 jersey retired in January 2006.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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