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by Staff Writer / Carolina Hurricanes


RALEIGH, NC (June 29, 2002) – Jim Rutherford, CEO and General Manager of the Eastern Conference Champion Carolina Hurricanes, announced today the team has signed center Ron Francis to a two-year contract. As per club policy, no terms were disclosed.

“Ron is the leader of the Carolina Hurricanes both on the ice and in the community,” Rutherford said. “He proved that he is still more than capable of playing at the highest level with the season he had this year. He led this team to the Stanley Cup finals this year and he is committed to helping it reach its goal of winning the Stanley Cup. ”

Francis (6’3’’, 200 lbs.) completed the 2001-02 regular season tied for ninth in the NHL in scoring (77 points), fourth in assists (50), first in power-play points (42), second in power-play assists (28), sixth in power-play goals (14) and third in faceoff percentage (58.9). He led Carolina in points and assists and was tied for second in goals (27) in the regular season. Francis, 39, led the Hurricanes in points (16) and assists (10) during the team’s run to the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals. He was tied for eighth in the league in playoff scoring and assists and was second in power-play points (10), tied for first in power-play goals (4) and sixth in power-play assists (6).

Francis, who was originally drafted by the organization in 1981, is the franchise's all-time leader in regular season games played (1,036), goals (350), assists (738), points (1,088), hat tricks (9), game-winning goals (55) and power-play goals (119). He is also the franchise’s all-time leader in playoff points (62), assists (39) and games played (62). Francis is ranked second in NHL history in regular season assists (1,187), fifth in points (1,701) and fifth in games played (1,569).

Francis earned a pair of honors at the 2002 NHL Awards in Toronto on June 20. He won the Lady Byng Trophy as the player judged to have shown the highest levels of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high level of playing ability. He was also awarded the King Clancy Trophy, given annually “to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.” The league also rewarded Francis with the 2002 NHL Foundation Player Award recognizing community service.

A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Francis reached several historic milestones during the 2001-02 season. He earned an assist on Jeff O'Neill's third period goal at Philadelphia on Jan. 26, passing Ray Bourque for second on the NHL's all-time assist list with 1,170. He had tied Bourque with an assist on Jan. 23 against Nashville. Francis was named NHL Player of the Week for Dec. 31-Jan. 6 after scoring four goals and two assists in four games during the week. He scored his 500th career goal on Jan. 2 against Boston, becoming the 29th player in league history to accomplish that feat. He was the fifth player in league history to record 500 goals and 1,000 assists (Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Mark Messier, Marcel Dionne -- Steve Yzerman reached the milestone with his 1,000th assist on Jan. 20). On Oct. 26 against the New York Islanders, Francis became the seventh player in league history to eclipse 1,500 games played (Gordie Howe, Larry Murphy, Ray Bourque, Mark Messier, Alex Delvecchio and John Bucyk). Francis became the 31st player in NHL history to play 1,000 games with one franchise when he played his 1,000th game with the franchise on Jan. 2.

Today’s signing comes two days before the July 1 deadline, when Francis would have become an unrestricted free agent.

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