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Francis timeline: From Hall of Fame player to first Seattle GM

Two-time Cup winner, Whalers' all-time leading scorer to head up NHL expansion team

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / Managing Editor

Ron Francis was named general manager of the NHL expansion team in Seattle on Thursday. The League's 32nd team will begin play in the 2021-22 season.

Francis, a Hall of Fame center and the Hartford Whalers' all-time leading scorer, was an executive with the Carolina Hurricanes from 2006-18, including four years as GM.


[RELATED: Francis named general manager of Seattle NHL expansion team | Ron Francis: 100 Greatest NHL Players]


Here are some of Francis' most memorable NHL moments:

June 10, 1981 -- Francis, a center with Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League, is selected by the Whalers with the No. 4 pick of the 1981 NHL Draft in Montreal.

Nov. 14, 1981 -- After beginning the season with 48 points (18 goals, 30 assists) for Sault Ste. Marie, Francis is called up by the Whalers and goes scoreless in his NHL debut against the Washington Capitals. But he has a goal and two assists four nights later against the Toronto Maple Leafs for his first NHL points, and finishes the season with 68 points (25 goals, 43 assists) in 59 games.

Feb. 22, 1985 -- Francis is named captain of the Whalers after center Mark Johnson is traded. At age 22, he's one of the youngest captains in NHL history. Francis remains captain until Dec. 7, 1990.

March 4, 1991 -- The Whalers trade Francis, their all-time leading scorer, to the Pittsburgh Penguins along with defensemen Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings for forwards John Cullen and Jeff Parker and defenseman Zarley Zalapski.

May 25, 1991 -- Francis scores a goal during Pittsburgh's 8-0 victory against the Minnesota North Stars in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final that gives the Penguins their first championship since entering the NHL in 1967. He finishes with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 24 postseason games.

June 1, 1992 -- Francis scores what proves to be the Cup-winning goal in Pittsburgh's 6-5 win against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Cup Final. He finishes the postseason with 27 points (eight goals, 19 assists).

April 14, 1996 -- Despite going scoreless in Pittsburgh's regular-season finale against the Boston Bruins, Francis completes his best NHL season. He finishes with 119 points, including an NHL-leading 92 assists. The Penguins finish first in the Northeast Division but lose Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final to the Florida Panthers, partly because Francis breaks his left foot blocking a shot during the conference semifinals against the New York Rangers.

Video: Ron Francis has second-most assists in NHL history

July 13, 1998 -- Francis returns to his original organization when he signs as a free agent with the Carolina Hurricanes, who relocated from Hartford one year earlier. He wins the Lady Byng Trophy for the second time in his NHL career in his first season with the Hurricanes.

June 4, 2002 -- After helping Carolina reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time, Francis scores 58 seconds into overtime to give the Hurricanes a 3-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 1. However, Carolina loses the next four games. Later that month, Francis wins the Lady Byng Trophy for the third time and receives the King Clancy Trophy in recognition of his leadership and humanitarian contributions.

March 9, 2004 -- With the Hurricanes out of the playoff race, Francis is traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 10 games with Toronto and four assists in 12 playoff games.

Sept. 14, 2005 -- Francis announces his retirement from the NHL after 23 seasons. He finishes his career with 1,798 points (549 goals, 1,249 assists) in 1,731 NHL games, trailing only Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Gordie Howe on the all-time points list.

Jan. 28, 2006 -- The Hurricanes retire Francis' No. 10, and he rejoins Carolina in November of that year when he's named director of player development. He is promoted to assistant general manager on Oct. 4, 2007, is named an associate head coach on Dec. 8, 2008, and returns to the front office on a full-time basis in June 2011 when he's promoted to director of hockey operations.

Nov. 12, 2007 -- Francis is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

April 28, 2014 -- The Hurricanes, who haven't qualified for the playoffs since 2009, promote Francis to executive vice president and general manager after GM Jim Rutherford steps down. Two months later, the Hurricanes select defenseman Haydn Fleury with the No. 7 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Francis' first as GM.

June 19, 2014 -- Francis hires Bill Peters, an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings, as coach, replacing Kirk Muller. The Hurricanes fail to advance to the playoffs in Peters' four seasons with Carolina.

June 26, 2015 -- Carolina selects defenseman Noah Hanifin with the No. 5 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft in Sunrise, Florida; Hanifin makes the Hurricanes roster at the start of the 2015-16 season. One day later, Francis makes perhaps his best pick as GM, selecting Sebastian Aho, a forward from Finland, in the second round (No. 35).

June 15, 2016 -- After missing the playoffs for the seventh straight season, the Hurricanes acquire third-year forward Teuvo Teravainen in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks. Teravainen sets NHL career highs in points in each of his first three seasons with Carolina. The trade comes 3 1/2 months after Francis sends center Eric Staal, Carolina's captain since Jan. 20, 2010, to the New York Rangers in a trade for prospects and draft picks.

April 28, 2017 -- The Hurricanes acquire goalie Scott Darling in a trade with the Blackhawks, and soon after sign him to a four-year contract. However, the trade doesn't turn out the way Francis had intended; Darling struggles in his first season and is sent to the American Hockey League in 2018-19 before being traded to the Panthers on June 30, 2019.

July 1, 2017 -- Francis and the Hurricanes bring back one of the heroes of Carolina's run to the Stanley Cup in 2006 by signing forward Justin Williams to a two-year contract. Williams is named captain on Sept. 13, 2018.

March 7, 2018 -- New majority owner Tom Dundon names Francis president of hockey operations. Team president Don Waddell takes over as GM.

April 30, 2018 -- Francis' contract is terminated by the Hurricanes shortly after Carolina misses the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season.

July 18, 2019 -- After almost 15 months away from hockey, Francis returns to the NHL when he's named the first general manager of the Seattle expansion team, scheduled to begin play in 2021-22.

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