Francis, Ronald Michael
Ronald "Ron" Michael Francis, hockey player (b at Sault Ste Marie, Ont 1 Mar 1963). Ron Francis' long career in hockey garnered him several awards and he is known as one of the NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE's best-ever playmakers. Francis stayed only a short time in junior hockey before he was drafted by the Hartford Whalers for the 1981-82 season, selected fourth overall in the NHL entry draft. Just 19, Francis was nonetheless considered a mature and skillful player, amassing 25 goals and 68 points during his first season.
Francis, though skilled individually, was part of a rookie team just developing. He was named the team's captain at 22 years old (1984-85), making him one of the youngest captains in NHL history. The Whalers had a difficult time making the playoffs and playing consistently once they did. Part way through the 1990-91 season Francis was removed as captain without explanation, and weeks later he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Joining Penguins teammates Mario LEMIEUX and Jaromir Jagr, Francis was able to elevate his game to a new level and became one of the league's best centres. He helped the Penguins to 2 back-to-back STANLEY CUP victories (1991 and 1992) and, at last, he reached the prestigious 100-point plateau in 1992. For his efforts Francis was named team captain while Lemieux was recovering from injuries in 1994, and again in 1997 when Lemieux retired.
When Ron Francis became a free agent in 1998 Pittsburgh traded him to the Carolina Hurricanes (previously the Hartford Whalers). In 2002 he helped the Hurricanes to their first-ever appearance in the Stanley Cup finals. Francis played 6 seasons with the Hurricanes before his final trade, to the TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS in 2004, but the NHL lockout shortened his time with Toronto and he chose to retire in 2005.
Upon retirement Francis received numerous accolades, though he is widely considered one of the most unsung hockey superstars in the league. In all, he was named to 4 All-Star teams, and won the Selke Trophy in 1995, the LADY BYNG TROPHY 3 times (1995, 1998 and 2002), and the King Clancy Trophy in 2002. He is one of the few NHL players to accumulate 1000 assists throughout his career, and he was named to the HOCKEY HALL OF FAME in 2007. He has been the Hurricanes' Director of Club Development since 2006.