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Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell named finalist for NHL GM of the Year

Widely thought as a last-resort option when he took the job following the departure of Ron Francis, his role in building a conference finalist has him in line for some league hardware.

Jamie Kellner

When Don Waddell was named to replace Ron Francis as general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes, it was an aside, a throwaway in a press release that was headlined by the hiring of Rod Brind’Amour as head coach. At the time, it was thought that Waddell was a last resort, the obvious in-house option who took the job when others had used the Hurricanes to advance their own careers.

But after a season in which the team he reconstructed on the fly advanced to an improbable conference final berth and became one of the revelations of the NHL season, Waddell is earning some headline-worthy acclamation of his own.

The NHL announced Thursday that Waddell is one of three finalists for the General Manager of the Year award, along with St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong and, ironically, the opposing general manager in the Eastern Conference Final, the Boston Bruins’ Don Sweeney.

Among Waddell’s accomplishments this season were the trade that brought Dougie Hamilton and Micheal Ferland to the Hurricanes, acquiring Jordan Martinook from the Coyotes, signing Calvin de Haan to a free-agent contract, and the deal that saw Nino Niederreiter arrive from the Wild in exchange for Victor Rask. Waddell, who was the original general manager of the Atlanta Thrashers for eleven seasons, first joined the Hurricanes organization as the president of Gale Force Sports and Entertainment in 2014, and assumed the interim general manager title when Ron Francis was reassigned to president of hockey operations on March 17, 2018.

Waddell is the only member of the Hurricanes organization to be up for a leaguewide award this season. The GM of the Year finalists and winner are determined by a panel of the 31 NHL general managers, plus team executives and media members, and the winner will be revealed at the 2019 NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 19. The release from the team is below.


Award voted on by a panel of general managers, executives and media members

The National Hockey League today announced that Carolina Hurricanes President and General Manager Don Waddell has been named a finalist for the 2018-19 NHL General Manager of the Year Award.

The NHL General Manager of the Year Award is voted on annually by a panel that includes all 31 general managers as well as other NHL executives and media members. The other finalists are Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney and St. Louis Blues President of Hockey Operations/General Manager Doug Armstrong. The winner will be announced at the 2019 NHL Awards presented by Bridgestone at the Mandalay Bay Events Center sports and entertainment complex in Las Vegas on June 19.

Waddell, 60, was named interim general manager on March 17, 2018, and was officially named the ninth general manager in franchise history on May 8, 2018. He originally joined the franchise on July 1, 2014, when he was named President of Gale Force Sports & Entertainment. Among the 24 players on Carolina’s current playoff roster, nine have been acquired or drafted by Waddell during his stint as general manager, including Calvin de Haan, Micheal Ferland, Dougie Hamilton, Saku Maenalanen, Jordan Martinook, Curtis McElhinney, Petr Mrazek, Nino Niederreiter and Andrei Svechnikov.

Waddell previously served as the general manager of the Atlanta Thrashers from 1998-2010 and then as the president of the Thrashers in 2010-11. Prior to joining the Thrashers, Waddell won a Stanley Cup as an assistant general manager of the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98. The Detroit, Mich., native also served as general manager for USA Hockey at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games and the 2001, 2002 and 2005 IIHF World Championships.