|Hockey Hall of Fame, 2007|
March 1, 1963 |
Sault Ste. Marie, ON, CAN
|Height||6 ft 3 in (191 cm)|
|Weight||200 lb (91 kg; 14 st 4 lb)|
|Played for||Hartford Whalers
Toronto Maple Leafs
|NHL Draft||4th overall, 1981
Ronald Michael Francis, Jr. (born March 1, 1963) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey centre and the current general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League (NHL). Drafted fourth overall in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, Francis played 23 seasons in the NHL for the Hartford Whalers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs. Upon retiring from professional ice hockey in 2004, Francis stands second all-time in career assists (1,249), behind only Wayne Gretzky; fifth in career points (1,798); third in games played (1,731); and 27th in career goals (549).
In 2014, Francis was named as the general manager for the Hurricanes, replacing Jim Rutherford, who had been with the franchise ever since the team's move to Raleigh, North Carolina. Two years before, Francis had become a minority owner of the team as part of the five-man investor group, Playmakers Management.
Francis was drafted by the Hartford Whalers in the first round, fourth overall, of the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. He was a model of consistency and durability, averaging more than a point a game in over 1,700 games in 23 seasons, and (not counting the lockout-shortened 1994–95 season) averaging just under 77 games played a season. His three Lady Byng Trophies attest to his gentlemanly conduct on and off the ice. Francis stands second all-time in career assists behind Wayne Gretzky with 1,249, fourth in career points (1,798), third in games played (1,731), and twenty-sixth in career goals (549).
Francis played almost ten seasons with the Whalers, serving as captain for almost six and setting nearly every offensive record in franchise history. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 4, 1991 with Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings, in exchange for Jeff Parker, Zarley Zalapski, and John Cullen. The trade became a coup for Pittsburgh, where he centred a formidable second line behind Mario Lemieux, as the Penguins won their first Stanley Cup less than three months later. Francis was indispensable the following year, as Pittsburgh repeated as champions, in leading the team during the absence of Lemieux in the 1992 playoffs – and in scoring the Cup-clinching goal against the Chicago Blackhawks. At the same time, it is considered to be one of the most one-sided trades in NHL history (though The Hockey News suggested that Hartford had gotten the better end of the trade at the time),; the players Hartford acquired never approached the numbers or impact Francis produced there or with Pittsburgh. Francis would spend seven seasons in Pittsburgh, captaining the team twice, and becoming the first Penguin to win the Selke Trophy in 1995.
Francis returned to his original organization as a free agent for 1998–99, signing with the Carolina Hurricanes (who had moved from Hartford the previous season). He spent the next 5.5 seasons padding his franchise records. He still ranks first all-time in Whalers/Hurricanes history in points, goals, assists and games played. At the time of his retirement, his 1,175 points were more than double those of then-runner up Kevin Dineen. He captained the Hurricanes to a surprise appearance in the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals and scored the winning goal for the Hurricanes in overtime of Game 1, before losing to the Detroit Red Wings in five games. He is one of the few players in NHL history to be named permanent captain for two distinct terms, with two separate franchises, and one of three to take two different teams to the NHL Stanley Cup Finals (Hartford/Carolina and Pittsburgh), along with Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier.
Francis finished his career with a brief stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs, traded there by the Hurricanes in March 2004 to allow him one last run at the Stanley Cup. He retired from the NHL before the 2005–06 season and assumed a position with the Raleigh Youth Hockey Association. In June 2011, Francis assumed the position of director of hockey operations with the Carolina Hurricanes before later being named general manager of the team in 2014.
Francis is married to the former Mary Lou Robie, a native of Stamford, Connecticut whom he met in Hartford during his tenure with the Whalers. They married in 1986 and have three children: Kaitlyn (b. 1991), Michael (b. 1993), and Connor (b. 1996). Francis is considered a popular sports figure in Hartford, Pittsburgh and Raleigh respectively, and is also noted for his humanitarian and charity work. Francis also has the distinction of being the first ice hockey player inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. Francis was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada.
Awards and achievements
Francis won two Stanley Cups, in 1990–91 and the following season, with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Statistically, his best season was 1995–96, when he recorded 119 points; that season, he led the NHL in assists, with 92. The previous season, he had not only led the League in assists with 48 over the lockout-shortened, half-season schedule, but became the first player to win both the Frank J. Selke Trophy and the Lady Byng Trophy in the same season.
Francis' Whalers number 10 jersey was raised at the Hartford Civic Center on January 6, 2006 (though not officially retired, the Whalers organization no longer existing to retire it), along with Ulf Samuelsson's number 5 and Kevin Dineen's number 11. Additionally, his Hurricanes number 10 jersey was retired by the Carolina organization on January 28, 2006. He was also pictured in the Pittsburgh Penguins Ring of Honor that formerly circled the upper level of the Pittsburgh Civic Arena.
On June 28, 2007, Francis was selected to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot. He was formally inducted on November 12, 2007.
- Selected to the NHL All-Star Game in 1983, 1985, 1990 and 1996.
- Won a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992.
- NHL Plus-Minus Award winner in 1995.
- Awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 1995.
- Awarded the Lady Byng Trophy in 1995, 1998 and 2002.
- Awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2002.
- Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.
- Currently in 5th place of all-time regular season NHL point leaders with 1,798 points
- Currently in 27th place of all-time regular season NHL goals with 549 goals
- Currently in 2nd place of all-time regular season NHL assists with 1,249 assists
- Currently in 3rd place on all-time NHL regular season games played with 1,731 games
- June 10, 1981: Drafted 4th overall by the Hartford Whalers in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft.
- March 4, 1991: Traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, along with Grant Jennings and Ulf Samuelsson, in exchange for John Cullen, Jeff Parker, and Zarley Zalapski.
- July 13, 1998: Signed a four-year, $20.8 million contract as a free agent with the Carolina Hurricanes.
- July 29, 2002: Re-signed with Carolina to a two-year, $11 million contract.
- March 9, 2004: Traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Toronto's 4th round selection in the 2005 Draft (later traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Columbus selected Jared Boll).
- September 14, 2005: Announced his retirement from the NHL after 22 seasons.
|1980–81||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds||OHL||64||26||43||69||33||19||7||8||15||34|
|1981–82||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds||OHL||25||18||30||48||46||—||—||—||—||—|
|2003–04||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||12||3||7||10||0||12||0||4||4||2|
- List of NHL statistical leaders
- List of NHL players with 1000 points
- Notable families in the NHL
- List of NHL players with 500 goals
- List of NHL players with 100 point seasons
- List of NHL players with 1000 assists
- List of NHL players with 1,000 games played
- Starkey, Joe. Tales From the Pittsburgh Penguins. p. 98. ISBN 1-58261-199-8.