FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Oct. 25, 2005
RALEIGH, NC - Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team will honor its former captain and 23-year National Hockey League star Ron Francis prior to and during its game on Saturday, Jan. 28 against the Atlanta Thrashers. The team will formally retire Francis' familiar No. 10 jersey during a pre-game ceremony, and honor the franchise's all-time goals, assists and points leader throughout the game.
"No ceremony could fully pay tribute to what Ron Francis meant to the Hurricanes organization and the National Hockey League," said Rutherford. "Aside from being this franchise's all-time best player on the ice, Ron has been an example of class and dedication throughout his brilliant career to his teammates and in the communities where he has played."
Francis announced his retirement on Sept. 14, 2005, following a 23-year NHL career with Hartford, Pittsburgh, Carolina and Toronto. In 1,731 NHL regular-season games, Francis scored 549 goals and earned 1,249 assists, to rank him fourth all-time on the league's points list behind Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Gordie Howe. Francis' 1,249 assists rank second only to Gretzky (1,963) and he ranks third on the games-played list behind Howe (1,767) and Messier (1,756).
The Hartford Whalers drafted Francis in the first round, fourth overall, in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. Francis played with the Whalers for 10 seasons before joining Pittsburgh at the trading deadline of the 1990-91 season. He spent seven full seasons with the Penguins before rejoining the organization that drafted him, when the relocated Carolina Hurricanes signed him as a free agent on July 13, 1998. In 16 seasons with the Hartford/Carolina franchise, Francis played in 1,186 games, scoring 382 goals, earning 793 assists for 1,185 points, all of which are franchise records.
During his playing career, Francis played in four NHL All-Star games, won the Lady Byng Trophy (sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct) three times (1995, 1998, 2002), the Frank J. Selke Trophy (best defensive forward) in 1995 and the King Clancy Memorial Trophy (leadership/humanitarian/community work) in 2002. He also won the Alka-Seltzer Plus Award in 1995 when he led the NHL in plus/minus, and was a key member of the Penguins' Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1991 and 1992.
The Hurricanes chose the Jan. 28 game against Atlanta to honor Francis because it falls on a Saturday night, giving fans and families a better opportunity to attend the pre-game ceremonies honoring Francis. As an added benefit, Hurricanes season-ticket holders, mini-plan holders, suite holders and corporate partners can currently purchase individual-game tickets for the Jan. 28 matchup. Individual game tickets for the Jan. 28 game, and all other Hurricanes home games in December and January, will go on sale to the general public on Nov. 1.
The Carolina Hurricanes continue a three-game home stand tomorrow against the Boston Bruins (7 p.m., Hurricanes Radio Network) before facing the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday (7 p.m., Fox Sports Net, Hurricanes Radio Network). Individual tickets for all Hurricanes games at the RBC Center in October and November can be purchased at the RBC Center box office, all TicketMaster outlets, by calling 919-834-4000 or via CarolinaHurricanes.com. For information on Hurricanes season-ticket packages and mini-season ticket plans, please call 1-866-NHL-CANES.