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Ronald Michael Francis, Jr. (born March 1, 1963), is a retired Canadianmarker professional ice hockey centreman who played 23 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Hartford Whalers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs. He now serves as the associate head coach and director of player personnel for the Hurricanes.


Playing career

Francis was drafted by the Hartford Whalers in round 1 (fourth overall) of the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. He was a model of consistency, averaging more than a point a game in over 1700 games in 23 seasons. 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-first 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 – on a goal by Samuelsson – 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; his 1,175 points with the franchise are double that of the 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 the only player in NHL history to be named to captain two separate franchises (Hartford/Carolina and Pittsburgh) each in two separate periods.

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.

Awards and achievements

He won 2 Stanley Cups, in 1990–91 and the following season, with the Pittsburgh Penguins. His best season was 1995–96 when he had 119 points; that season, he led the league in assists with 92. The previous season, he had not only led the league in assists with 48 over the strike-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.

His Whalers number #10 was raised at the Hartford Civic Centermarker on January 6, 2006 (though not officially retired, the Whalers organization no longer existing to retire it), along with Ulf Samuelsson's #5 and Kevin Dineen's #11. Additionally his Hurricanes #10 jersey was retired by the Carolina organization on January 28, 2006. He is also pictured in the Pittsburgh Penguins Ring of Honor that circles the inside of Mellon Arena.

On June 28, 2007, he was selected to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot. He was formally inducted on November 12, 2007.



Career statistics

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
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
1981–82 Hartford Whalers NHL 59 25 43 68 51
1982–83 Hartford Whalers NHL 79 31 59 90 60
1983–84 Hartford Whalers NHL 72 23 60 83 45
1984–85 Hartford Whalers NHL 80 24 57 81 66
1985–86 Hartford Whalers NHL 53 24 53 77 24
1986–87 Hartford Whalers NHL 75 30 63 93 45 6 2 2 4 6
1987–88 Hartford Whalers NHL 80 25 50 75 87 6 2 5 7 2
1988–89 Hartford Whalers NHL 69 29 48 77 36 4 0 2 2 0
1989–90 Hartford Whalers NHL 80 32 69 101 73 7 3 3 6 8
1990–91 Hartford Whalers NHL 67 21 55 76 51
1990–91 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 14 2 9 11 21 24 7 10 17 24
1991–92 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 70 21 33 54 30 21 8 19 27 6
1992–93 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 84 24 76 100 68 12 6 11 17 19
1993–94 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 82 27 66 93 62 6 0 2 2 6
1994–95 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 44 11 48 59 18 12 6 13 19 4
1995–96 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 77 27 92 119 56 11 3 6 9 4
1996–97 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 81 27 63 90 20 5 1 2 3 2
1997–98 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 81 25 62 87 20 6 1 5 6 2
1998–99 Carolina Hurricanes NHL 82 21 31 52 34 3 0 1 1 0
1999–00 Carolina Hurricanes NHL 78 23 50 73 18
2000–01 Carolina Hurricanes NHL 82 15 50 65 32 3 0 0 0 0
2001–02 Carolina Hurricanes NHL 80 27 50 77 18 23 6 10 16 6
2002–03 Carolina Hurricanes NHL 82 22 35 57 30
2003–04 Carolina Hurricanes NHL 68 10 20 30 14
2003–04 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 12 3 7 10 0 12 0 4 4 2
NHL totals 1731 549 1249 1798 979 171 46 97 143 95


See also



References

  1. Joe Starkey, Tales From the Pittsburgh Penguins, pg. 98, ISBN 1-58261-199-8



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