Ron Francis has a contract extension with the Carolina Hurricanes, and the general manager said it didn’t take long to complete.
No agent, no contract bickering. Just a quick meeting with team owner Peter Karmanos Jr. and it was all but done.
“It was actually pretty simple,” Francis said Tuesday. “We had worked on an extension for (Canes coach) Bill Peters and gotten that done, and a little after that Mr. Karmanos was in town and he walked in the office and said, ‘All right, now I want to take care of you.’”
Francis, who also serves as executive vice president, received an extension through the 2018-2019 season.
Never miss a local story.
“Ron has rebuilt our organization the right way, stocking our team and system with young players who will help this franchise compete for the Stanley Cup year in and year out,” Karmanos said in a statement.
The Canes have one of the youngest teams in the league, and one with one of the lowest payrolls. They’ve missed the playoffs the past seven seasons but showed a 15-point improvement last season – Peters’ second as coach – as rookie defensemen Noah Hanifin, Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce all stepped in and played well.
“I think as a management team and coaching staff and as an organization we’re going in the right direction,” Francis said. “It’s nice to have the extra years in security but it wouldn’t have changed my approach one way or the other as to what we’re doing. … We think we’ve made ourselves bigger, we think we’ve made ourselves faster, and more importantly we think we’ve made ourselves more skilled.”
Francis said in talking with Karmanos, the owner said, “You don’t seem to be as excited about this team as I am.”
“I said, Pete, part of my job is managing expectations, yours included,” Francis said, smiling. “We’re still very young and there’s always that risk with young players how they’re going to respond.”
Much will be expected of forward Teuvo Teräväinen, 21, obtained in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks. The same for forward Sebastian Aho, 19, a second-round draft pick by the Canes in 2015.
Both will compete for Finland in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, representing their country but forcing them to miss time in the Canes’ preseason training camp.
“I think any time you can bring new players in and acclimate them to the organization and your structure, the sooner the better,” Francis said. “But I think with these two individuals, they’re extremely bright hockey players with great hockey sense. They won’t have a tough time picking up our system.”
Francis said forward Andrej Nestrasil, who suffered a fractured vertebra on Feb. 25, should be “100 percent ready to go” for training camp.
The Canes traded former captain Eric Staal last season and Francis said there is no rush to name a new captain, saying the Canes could go with alternate captains early in the season.
“We want to put the ‘C’ on somebody when we think it’s the right guy,” he said.