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Free Agent Frenzy Begins for the 'Canes

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RALEIGH — It's the off season in the National Hockey League. The Hurricanes have signed all of their free agents, and now they're looking to sign some other free agents who can make them a better hockey team.

The Hurricanes need a rock solid center, and the one Carolina covets is former All-Star Ron Francis of Pittsburgh. The 'Canes like Francis so much, they plan on making him an offer Thursday.

"He's won some Stanley Cups," says Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford. "He's got some leadership qualities. He's a great player. He's a center iceman, and that's something we've been looking for for some time now."

Francis has a history with the Hurricanes, sort of. He spent the early part of his career with Hartford before the franchise moved to North Carolina. In Hartford, he set several team records.

"That's a good reason for him to come back here, to make sure he pads those records he has," Rutherford jokes.

The big name on the free agent market is Brett Hull. Yes, Carolina is interested in signing him, which would instantly increase the team's credibility and marketability.

"Certainly, the hockey fans in this market know who Brett Hull is," Rutherford says. "They know that's he's a great player. He's going to the Hall of Fame. He is a guy we can use as a marquee player."

With Hull and Francis, Carolina will be a marquee team.


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