Ron Francis among 11 new members of 2013 N.C. Hall of Fame class

csmith@newsobserver.comJanuary 8, 2013 

— It has already been a good week for Ron Francis and the Carolina Hurricanes. After finding out on Sunday that there will be hockey this season, Francis was named to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, along with former North Carolina basketball coach Bill Guthridge, Elon graduate and former NFL star Rich McGeorge and former Cincinnati Reds infielder Tommy Helms.

The 2013 North Carolina Hall of Fame inductees were announced on Monday and featured the former Hurricanes’ captain along with 10 other members. The class will be enshrined at the 50th annual induction banquet on May 2 at the Raleigh Convention Center.

Francis, now a minority owner of the Hurricanes franchise, retired as a player after the 2004-05 season and is vice president for hockey operations for the Hurricanes.

On Monday, Francis received word that he would be inducted into the organization, becoming the first hockey player named to the hall. "I came here to play and to sell the sport, then settled here and now have had this tremendous honor bestowed on me," Francis said Monday. "It's very exciting.

"I've benefited from a lot of other people's hard work to be the first hockey player selected. I'm sure there will soon be a few others knocking on the door."

Francis already has been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame after a career in which he won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins before signing a free-agent contract with the Hurricanes in July 1998. He spent 16 of his 23 seasons with the franchise – the Hartford Whalers until the relocation to Raleigh in 1997 – before retiring as a player in September 2005.

Francis scored 549 goals and had 1,249 assists in 23 NHL seasons and his 1,798 points are the fourth-best in NHL history. The Canes retired his jersey, No. 10, in January 2006 and he went into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November 2007.

The inductees also included:

• Guthridge, a long-time assistant coach to former UNC coach Dean Smith, was named head coach after Smith’s retirement and led the Tar Heels to a 90-28 record in three seasons. Guthridge was named National Coach of the Year in 1998, after leading UNC-Chapel Hill into the Final Four.

• McGeorge, a 1971 graduate of Elon College (now Elon University), who was a first-round draft choice of the Green Bay Packers. He played tight end in Green Bay for nine seasons.

• Kelvin Bryant, a former North Carolina and Washington Redskins running back who became the school’s third all-time rusher and scorer.

• Wade Garrett, a premier fast-pitch softball pitcher and a member of the N.C. Softball Hall of Fame.

• Bob Quincy, a five-time Sports Writer of the Year in North Carolina who graduated from North Carolina. He also was a Charlotte Observer columnist and sports writer and died in 1984

• Helms, a Charlotte native who was a member of the Cincinnati Reds’ “Big Red Machine” and Rookie of the Year in 1966.

• Marion Kirby, who compiled a 278-65-8 record at Edenton and Page High School, including four state titles at Page.

• Hugh Morton, who was a renowned conservationist and a world-class photographer. He died in 2006.

• Marty Sheets, who holds 250 Special Olympics medals in a variety of sports.

• Mildred F. Southern, a long time proponent of tennis in North Carolina.

Staff writer Chip Alexander contributed to this story

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