Jeff O’Neill isn’t happy with the status quo within the Carolina Hurricanes franchise where he was a star dating back to its days as the Hartford Whalers.
The “O-Dog” said on TSN's Jay and Dan show on Monday that he's “embarrassed to be an alumni of the Carolina Hurricanes with what’s going on.” O'Neill was referring to recent moves within the Hurricanes organization.
The Hurricanes are searching for both a new head coach and a new general manager.
Bill Peters on April 20 announced he was opting out of his fifth year as head coach to take the position with the Calgary Flames. On Monday, the Hurricanes cut ties with with longtime franchise champion Ron Francis, whom owner Tom Dundon demoted in March from the general manager position to “president of hockey operations.”
O’Neill said when Dundon became the Hurricanes’ majority owner in January, he expected Dundon to increase Francis’ operating budget, giving him unlimited resources to help improve the team. Instead, he said, it went the other direction.
“It’s embarrassing,” O’Neill said on Jay and Dan. “It just seems like they’re morphing into the Cleveland Browns of the NHL.”
O'Neill, who was drafted by the Whalers as the fifth overall pick in 1994 and, with Francis as captain, helped the Hurricanes reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002, also talked about the Hurricanes offering a fraction of the market rate for a new general manager. O'Neill said that some GMs who aren’t winning games are making in the range of $2-3 million, so “why in the hell would I come here for 300 grand," suggesting that the Hurricanes are low-balling the amount it would pay its new general manager.
“People in the industry, they understand once they get a general manager job how difficult it is, and there’s only 31 of them, and they generally stay around for a long tenure,” O’Neill said. “You know it’s bad when people are declining.”
When the hosts of the radio show asked O’Neill if he thinks new leadership is trying to implode the franchise to relocate it, he responded, “It certainly seems like they’re trying to screw it up. … It’s just garbage.”
O'Neill also tweeted on Monday: "Quite a scene in Carolina. Embarrassing."