Don Waddell signed a three-year contract Monday to remain general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Waddell's previous contract with the Hurricanes expired June 30, but he continued to work for Carolina under the terms of his expired contract. Waddell said that was never an issue between him and owner Tom Dundon.
[Hurricanes 31 IN 31: Preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Behind the Numbers | Fantasy]
"Obviously, Tom and I have a good relationship and we've talked," Waddell said. "It's not like this has been a mystery to either one of us. We've talked about it and Tom knew my feelings that I didn't want to leave here. I think it got blown out of proportion about the whole contract. My contract expired. Tom and I never really had a need to talk about it.
"I knew that in time we'd work it out, which brings us to where we are today where we officially announce it."
The Hurricanes named Waddell interim general manager March 17, 2018. He was hired as the ninth GM in Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers history May 8, 2018.
Video: Don Waddell inks multi-year extension with Hurricanes
In his first season, Waddell helped Carolina finish 46-29-7 and qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009, reaching the Eastern Conference Final before losing to the Boston Bruins. He was named a finalist for NHL General Manager of the Year Award.
Waddell's lack of a contract was pushed to the forefront after the Minnesota Wild fired GM Paul Fenton on July 30 and they expressed interest in speaking with him about the opening. Waddell said he met with Wild owner Craig Leipold and team president Matt Majka on Aug. 6, but that was as far as the process went.
The Wild aren't in a rush to hire a new GM, and Waddell made it clear he's happy with the Hurricanes.
"Tom and I had talked about that before and when [the Wild] said that their timetable was longer than either one of us would expect, we just kept talking." Waddell said. "It was business as usual. The day that I went in there, that afternoon we were making a trade (with the San Jose Sharks for defenseman Kyle Wood). We made a trade for a player. We were just continuing to operate as we normally do."
Video: 31 in 31: Carolina Hurricanes 2019-20 season preview
Dundon said he would have allowed Waddell to speak with the Wild even if he had a contract with the Hurricanes.
"If there's other opportunities out there, there's no reason he can't understand them," Dundon said. "It's probably less drama if you have a contract, but it's also I'm comfortable with what we're doing and how we're doing it, what our relationship was. I thought it would take something extremely compelling for him to leave, but if there was something better for him in this world that was that much better than our situation, whether he had a contract or not, I'd be rooting for him."
In the end, the Wild's interest led to the Hurricanes signing Waddell for three more seasons.
"Don had mentioned he had been on one-year deals before, so if that job hadn't opened up and he hadn't been called, I wouldn't have even thought twice about this," Dundon said. "I don't think it's going to change the outcome of what he's going to do or how long he's going to do it, candidly, the fact that we wrote it down."
Dundon said he prefers his executives not be under contract because it gives him more flexibility, but NHL bylaws require each team to have a GM under contract by Sept. 1. But Waddell and Dundon said that was not the impetus for this contract.
"The fact that the contract is a thing is still strange to me, but once again, I value Don, I enjoy working with him, he's going to be here for a long time and he's an important part of what we're doing," Dundon said. "I'm glad this makes everybody feel better."
Waddell said he was never worried.
"I knew that in time we'd figure out something," Waddell said. "Whether it had to be in a contract for NHL purposes or it was just an agreement, it was going to get worked out."