Congratulations to Carolina Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis, who was honored as one of the 100 greatest players in National Hockey League history at a ceremony in Los Angeles on Friday night.
Francis, who played for the Hurricanes from 1998-2004 and captained the 2002 Eastern Conference championship team, has served as the Canes’ general manager since 2014. Francis and Paul Coffey, who played for the Canes from 1998-2000, were the only two members of the Canes to be honored. Five other players, including Bobby Hull and the late Gordie Howe, who played for the Hartford Whalers were also recognized.
NHL.com put together a capsule on each of the players named to the NHL 100. Here is part of what they said about Francis:
Open those record books and you'll find that Ron Francis became one the most prolific players in NHL history, residing in hockey's stratosphere alongside the game's greatest names. When, at age 41, he concluded his 23-season career in 2004 -- having starred in his own selfless way for the Hartford Whalers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes and, very briefly, Toronto Maple Leafs -- his 1,798 points were the fourth most in NHL history; he trailed Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Gordie Howe. He was ranked 19th in goals with 549 and had 22 consecutive 50-point seasons, equaling Howe's record. He is second only to Gretzky (1,963) in assists and third behind Howe (1,767) and Messier (1,756) in games played.
Yet somehow, the 2007 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee is seldom top-of-mind when the very best NHL players are discussed. Francis accomplished it all with such efficiency and grace that he was easily the most overlooked superstar of his era.
He was also a leader, largely by example, both on and off the ice. His own unpretentious personality did not produce gobs of media attention, but Francis was quite content using his considerable talents to make those around him better.
The whole thing is worth a read. The panel selecting the list of 100 greatest players comprised 58 panelists, including Canes radio play-by-play broadcaster Chuck Kaiton, retired Canes goaltender Kevin Weekes and former Canes GM Jim Rutherford.
Below is the press release from the league. The entire list is available at NHL.com/100.
NHL REVEALS COMPLETE LIST OF 100 GREATEST NHL PLAYERS
67 Legends (1967-Present) Join 33 Previously Announced Players (1917-1966)
The National Hockey League unveiled today its complete list of 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian, revealing the names of 67 legends (1967-present) who join the previously announced group of 33 players (predominantly from the League’s first 50 years, 1917-1966). All 100 players were honored during THE NHL100 presented by GEICO at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
The 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian includes 39 centers, 21 defensemen, 15 goaltenders, 15 right wings and 10 left wings. The group has combined for 106,632 regular-season games, 34,821 regular-season goals, 56,394 regular-season assists, 91,215 regular-season points and 5,445 regular-season goaltender wins. They also have won a combined 307 Stanley Cups, 68 Hart Memorial Trophies, 58 Art Ross Trophies, 49 Vezina Trophies, 46 James Norris Memorial Trophies, 38 Lady Byng Memorial Trophies, 38 Ted Lindsay Awards, 36 Conn Smythe Trophies, 25 Calder Memorial Trophies, 15 William M. Jennings Trophies and 13 Frank J. Selke Trophies.
A Blue Ribbon Panel, comprised of 58 individuals representing more than 1,800 years of experience in the game, selected the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian. Every member of the panel voted for 100 players, with each vote worth one point. Voting was conducted last July and August, with the results tabulated by accounting firm Ernst & Young.