Don Waddell doesn't have a contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, but owner Tom Dundon said he believes the general manager will remain in that role.
"Yeah, I expect Don to be the GM of the team for a while," Dundon said Wednesday.
Waddell's contract with the Hurricanes expired June 30. Dundon said Waddell, who recently interviewed to be GM of the Minnesota Wild, has continued to work for Carolina under the terms of his expired contract. Dundon said he hopes their business relationship will continue that way.
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"To me, he's employed by the Carolina Hurricanes," Dundon said. "He's employed and he's not going anywhere as far as I'm concerned. So the whole contract thing, I don't understand it. … I have found this weird since I got into the hockey business that the business people all have contracts. I never had contracts with the people that worked for me. It was just, 'If you do a good job (and) I like you, you'll work here, and I'll treat you fair.'"
Dundon, the chairman and managing partner of Dundon Capital Partners, a Dallas-based private investment firm, became majority owner of the Hurricanes on Jan. 11, 2018. At the time, Waddell was their president; he replaced Ron Francis as GM on March 7, 2018.
Carolina qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season for the first time since 2009 and reached the Eastern Conference Final before losing to the Boston Bruins. Although Waddell doesn't have a contract, he has overseen the Hurricanes' offseason business seemingly without any issues.
But the Wild's interest in Waddell, a finalist for the NHL General Manager of the Year Award last season, was understandable after they fired Paul Fenton on July 30. Dundon told Waddell he should listen to what Minnesota had to say.
"Tom's told me I have a job for life, but he's also encouraged me to explore other opportunities to see what the market will pay," Waddell told The News & Observer on Tuesday. "We started something here, I love it here, but when the job opened up and Tom said you should explore it, that's what I'm doing."
Dundon said he wouldn't have stood in Waddell's way even if he had a contract.
"I'm happy with him and I think he's happy here, but if there's other opportunities in the world, it's fair for him to understand them," Dundon said. "I've never subscribed to theory that people shouldn't be able to know what their choices are. So that was it. It's not like I was trying to push him out or anything."
Dundon acknowledged Waddell talking about a job with another team with the start of training camp about five weeks away isn't ideal, but he doesn't think it will impact the Hurricanes or his relationship with Waddell.
"I think he and I are good," Dundon said. "I think he knows what our situation is, and he probably doesn't know as much about that situation (with Minnesota). So this is probably not as big a story to me as it is to everybody else."
Waddell working for the Hurricanes without a contract is unusual, but he said he wasn't worried about it at the 2019 NHL Awards Media Day in Las Vegas on June 18.
"It's not an issue," Waddell told NHL.com. "The owner and I have met. We have a good relationship. He asked me to stay on as the GM next year, so when you get my age (61 on Aug. 19) you don't worry so much about those things, the logistic part. It will all get taken care of at the end of the day."
Dundon said Waddell has job security with the Hurricanes with or without a contract.
"I've told Don I'm not going to walk in and fire Don Waddell, so he doesn't need a contract," Dundon said. "If he wants one, he can have one if he asks for one. But we're trying to avoid having a bunch of contracts, so if he has a big contract it's kind of hard for us to run the team and run the business. … Don and I get along great, everybody is happy. So if he were to leave, that would most likely be over money.
"And I'm comfortable that I'm willing to pay a fair amount of money, but there's always somebody that will pay more, not just in hockey but in every business."