It was no surprise that Paul Maurice had the “interim” tag removed Monday. That was all but a foregone conclusion from the time the Carolina Hurricanes eliminated the New Jersey Devils.
But Ron Francis will be back with him behind the bench as associate coach, and that is a surprise — and not only because he was adamant during his lengthy playing career that he had no interest in coaching.
Francis started last season as the Hurricanes’ assistant general manager, where his performance was by all accounts exemplary. Asked to join Maurice behind the bench in December when Peter Laviolette was fired, Francis complied.
Now, he’s there for the near future at least, with his new title of “director of player development” reflecting his duties in the front office — reduced, but still active.
The path should be open for Francis to be a coach or general manager with this organization when the time comes. Monday, he kept both of his options open.