Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon may not have wanted to give his general manager a new contract, preferring him to work as an at will employee, but in the end the conventions of NHL front offices won out over Dundon’s preferred business sensibilities.
The Hurricanes announced Monday that they have signed team president and general manager Don Waddell to a new three-year contract, keeping him in the position that he’s held for just over a year. Waddell originally joined the Hurricanes in 2014 as team president following the departure of former president and GM Jim Rutherford, and took on the GM duties for himself after the departure of Ron Francis in the latter portions of the 2018 season.
“Tom and I had talked about this. It’s not like this has been a mystery to either one of us,” said Waddell. “I didn’t want to leave here. I think you get blown out of proportion about a contract. I knew in time we’d work it out, and that brings us to where we are today.
“I’m right where I belong and where I should be.”
Waddell had been heavily courted by the Minnesota Wild for their vacant GM position, and according to The Athletic’s Michael Russo, was the front runner for the Wild’s position as recently as late last week. By keeping Waddell, the Hurricanes will be in a position where they can expand on their appearance in the conference final from a year ago without the distraction of a protracted search for their third GM in the span of 16 months.
“Tom was OK with exploring that [opening]. I felt that their timetable was longer than any of us would have expected,” said Waddell.
“I thought it was going to take something really compelling for him to leave, given the situation we’re in,” said Dundon. “The fact that the contract is a thing is strange to me. I understand I’m alone on this one, but that’s how I feel.”
Waddell, a finalist for the NHL’s GM of the Year award that was won by the Boston Bruins’ Don Sweeney, has been working without a contract since his previous deal ended on June 30. However, he continued to be the voice of the front office on press releases and there was seemingly no bad blood between Dundon and Waddell as it relates to their business relationship. According to the News and Observer’s Luke DeCock, the Hurricanes were required by NHL bylaws to have a general manager identified and under contract by the end of August, so Waddell‘s new contract ensures that they will be in compliance with league rules when training camp gets underway next month.
“We’re doing this because we want to do this, not because of that rule,” said Dundon.
Dundon also said that vice president of hockey management and strategy Eric Tulsky is currently signed to a contract that Dundon said was borne out of Tulsky’s desire for a deal to give him and his family job security. The owner said that he was open to signing contracts with team employees “if it’s important to them,” but not everyone in the front office is under contract and Dundon is comfortable operating in either scenario.
The release from the team is below.
CANES RE-SIGN WADDELL TO MULTI-YEAR EXTENSION
Waddell was finalist for NHL GM of the Year Award last season
Tom Dundon, Chief Executive Officer, Owner and Governor of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced the team has re-signed President and General Manager Don Waddell to a multi-year contract extension.
“Don’s leadership and experience are invaluable to our organization and I’m happy we were able reach an extension,”said Dundon. “Don and I have a great relationship and he is someone I trust. I’m excited to continue to build a championship team with Don.”
“I’m thrilled to sign an extension with the Hurricanes and I look forward to continuing the success we experienced last season,” said Waddell. “We have a first-class organization, a great fanbase and a team we feel is built to contend for the Stanley Cup. My family and I are excited to stay in Raleigh for years to come.”
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. Last year, in his first season as general manager, Waddell helped the Hurricanes reach the playoffs for the first time in 10 years as the team reached the Eastern Conference Final. In addition, Waddell was named one of three finalists for the 2018-19 NHL General Manager of the Year Award.
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.