Thomas Dundon is a 46-year-old billionaire from Dallas who is a stranger to Raleigh as the new owner of the Carolina Hurricanes, the National Hockey League franchise team that captured the area’s imagination when it came to North Carolina more than 20 years ago. But then-owner Peter Karmanos was a stranger then, too. In time, with some help from Raleigh attorney Jim Cain – who helped the team embrace the area and vice versa as the team president, the Canes won the Stanley Cup in 2006.
Since that time, attendance has been up and down, and now is near the bottom in the league. But winning would change that, evidenced by what’s happened in past seasons. And make no mistake, there are thousands of die-hard ’Canes fans out there.
Dundon is said to be a hands-on kind of guy who won’t tolerate the status quo. He is retaining Hall of Famer Ron Francis as general manager, and that’s good. Since finishing his career on the ice in Toronto and coming back to Raleigh, Francis has become a popular figure in the community. Dundon also is going to have to deal with the governing Centennial Authority, which can be contentious in such areas as seat color and other factors in the PNC arena, which also is home to N.C. State basketball.
One worry fans apparently won’t have is the moving of the team. Dundon says no, and the NHL is not inclined to move teams, anyway, which disrupts the geographic balance in the league.