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Doug Warf to leave Carolina Hurricanes to become marketing chief of O2 Fitness

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On the list of things I thought I’d be writing today, this was nowhere to be found.

Doug Warf and Cam Ward at the 2012 Casino Night
Jamie Kellner

It’s not every day that a sports organization puts out a press release announcing the departure of a vice president of marketing, and the fact that the Carolina Hurricanes did exactly that on Wednesday underscores the gigantic shoes that Doug Warf will leave behind when he departs for a new career opportunity after the start of the new year.

Doug joined the Hurricanes as an intern in 2001 and worked his way up the ladder, becoming the executive director of the Kids ‘n Community Foundation in 2007 and earning a promotion to vice president of marketing in 2012. All along, Doug has been one of the brightest lights in the Canes’ front office, recognized by business publications for his acumen and his dedication to both the Canes and the organization’s charitable endeavors.

It’s been with the KNCF that Doug has made his mark. In his nine-plus years at the helm of the Foundation, it has made nearly 400 grants to area nonprofits, ranging from those directly related to youth hockey to organizations serving underprivileged children across North Carolina. Since its inception in 1997 the Foundation has awarded more than $13 million in cash grants to nonprofits, and at least $8 million of that passed across Doug’s desk in the past nine years.

But the KNCF is, incredibly, only part of the impact Doug has made on the Hurricanes organization. Are you, say, a fan of CanesVision’s contributions to the game night experience? Thank Doug. Enjoy what Michael Smith does with the website? He’s in Doug’s department. Ever had Stormy at an event? That’s under Doug as well.

Youth and amateur hockey? Artwork on season ticket brochures? Photo galleries on the team website? Doug, Doug, and Doug.

His two biggest contributions, though, might be the Canes’ ever-increasing ties to the military population of North Carolina, profiled on Canes Country on Veterans Day of this year, and the team’s Homegrown Series, new this year but already one of the team’s most popular promotions in years. Doug has spearheaded both of those, demonstrating a commitment to his home state that is unquestioned.

If you’re anywhere in North Carolina and you have heard about anything that the Carolina Hurricanes are doing, you have Doug to thank.

Aside from Ron Francis, Doug is probably the most visible member of the team’s front office staff. He quite possibly has not taken a day off in nine years. Speaking personally, Doug has been responsive to a fault every time I’ve needed something from him.

To that end: he talked with me for that military story from a hotel room in Denver while attending an NHL meeting in early November, when he could have easily passed me off to a subordinate. And if he’s like that with me, a lowly blog writer who ranks way down there on the hierarchy, you can clearly tell how much doing the right thing and being a good person to everyone he meets means to Doug.

I can’t say enough good things about Doug Warf. His departure leaves not a hole, but a crater, in the Canes’ front office. Whoever comes behind him has a very tall order to live up to the insanely high bar Doug set.

Best wishes, Doug. The Hurricanes won’t be the same without you.

Here’s the press release.

Longtime head of Kids ‘N Community Foundation to join local holdings company

Don Waddell, President of Gale Force Sports & Entertainment and the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that Hurricanes Vice President of Marketing and Executive Director of the Kids ‘N Community Foundation Doug Warf has accepted the role of Chief Marketing Officer for Raleigh-based MDO Holdings and Executive Vice President of Marketing for MDO Holdings portfolio company O2 Fitness. Warf will remain with the Hurricanes through mid-January.

“For 16 years, Doug Warf has been a vital member of the Hurricanes’ front office,” said Waddell. “His work with our foundation and guidance of our marketing department has been first class, and he has been a great asset to me since my arrival in 2014. He will be sorely missed, and we wish him well as he begins this new chapter of his career.”

Warf, 35, joined the Hurricanes as a fan development intern in January 2001. During his tenure, he has held the roles of ticket sales representative, promotions/fan development coordinator/manager, community relations director/manager and vice president/director of marketing. In 2007, he was named Executive Director of the Kids ‘N Community Foundation, and since has overseen the team’s community relations efforts and giving through the Foundation. Warf was named to the Triangle Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list in 2015.

“It has been a true honor to serve in my many capacities with the Hurricanes, and as executive director of the Kids ‘N Community Foundation,” said Warf. “The decision to move on was difficult and not made lightly, but I look forward to bringing my passion, focus and all I have learned with the Hurricanes to MDO Holdings. I also look forward to cheering on the ‘Canes at PNC Arena alongside the team’s great fans.”