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Dudley Ready for New Challenge with Canes

Dudley's rich hockey history has ties to Waddell, North Carolina

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

Rick Dudley's resume reads as if he were The Most Interesting Man in Hockey. If there's a job in hockey, he's probably done it. If there's a city with hockey, he's probably at least scouted in it.

And now, he's ready for his newest challenge. Dudley was named the Carolina Hurricanes' senior vice president of hockey operations on Tuesday, as he joins the team's retooled front office.

"They've done a pretty good job at assembling a group of young players who are very talented. With a few additions, they can be a pretty solid hockey team for a long time," Dudley said on a conference call. "There are things that need to be done to get it to the next level, but there are a lot of pieces there that can be worked with."

Dudley brings with him more than 45 years of experience in professional hockey, including 25 years as a senior executive in the National Hockey League. He most recently spent six years with the Montreal Canadiens, first as an assistant general manager and then as their senior vice president of hockey operations.

"I felt like it was time for a different sort of challenge," he said. "The feelings were good when I talked to the people in the organization. I felt like this was something I could enjoy."

Video: Rick Dudley Conference Call

Dudley has a history with Hurricanes President and Interim General Manager Don Waddell that dates back to the mid-1980s when Dudley tabbed Waddell as a player-assistant coach with the Flint Spirits of the International Hockey League.

"We've been friends since and worked together many times, mostly him being my boss," Dudley said.

Dudley also has a history in the state, having coached the Carolina Thunderbirds of the Atlantic Coast Hockey League to three championships in four seasons in Winston-Salem.

"I enjoyed every minute in Winston-Salem. It was a tremendous experience, and I loved the town," he said. "It was a ball. I loved the state and everything about it. In one way, it's kind of going home for me."

Away from the rink, Dudley's interests and accomplishments are just as eclectic. As detailed in this 16-year-old profile from Michael Russo, Dudley, a star athlete in lacrosse, football and hockey, is a movie buff and a musician who's released records. He was a gym rat then - with Russo asserting that Dudley could bench press 500 pounds at one point - and remains one to this day.

"I still work out every day, and hopefully I'm in pretty good shape. I'm still fairly strong. I would say I could do 300 [pounds] 10 times, maybe," he said. "I haven't attempted to measure lately, but I'm in pretty good shape."

Dudley vs. Rod Brind'Amour?

"Oh, dear God. I don't want any challenge from him," Dudley laughed. "I remember how good a conditioned athlete he was."

Dudley joins the Hurricanes, who named Paul Krepelka vice president of hockey operations a couple weeks back, on the heels of the team winning the second draft lottery to jump up nine spots to the second overall pick in this year's first-round draft order.

"I think all three teams can get a dimensional player. I mean that sincerely," he said. "In this particular draft at the top, there are players who can change a franchise."

The Hurricanes are a franchise, he said, that, with a few tweaks, could take that next step very soon.

"I think there are a couple of pieces that can be improved in a couple areas," he said. "Some of the solutions - and they're not that many - may already be in the organization because, again, they've done a good job amassing some very good, young talent."

Though Dudley has never seen fit to settle in one place for an extended period, there's no doubting that he has amassed a wealth of experience over his decades doing this, that, the other and then some in hockey. Now, at 69 years old, in a somewhat familiar place surrounded by at least one familiar face, Dudley is prepared for a new challenge.

"I'm probably not that long for the game anymore, but I'd like my last stop to be a very successful one. My gut tells me this could be," he said. "I hope this is my last stop."

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