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NHL Seattle GM Ron Francis addresses Bill Peters coaching abuse allegations

Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times on

Published in Hockey

SEATTLE -- NHL Seattle general manager Ron Francis said Wednesday he hopes to learn from his experiences with the Carolina Hurricanes and put fallout from the Bill Peters situation behind him.

In a sit-down interview near the team's headquarters, his first since his one-time Hurricanes coach, Peters, resigned last month from the Calgary Flames following accusations of past racist remarks and physical abuse, Francis addressed some lingering issues. Most notably, he explained why he gave Peters a two-year contract extension in July 2016 after earlier having imposed unspecified corrective action on him for striking two players on the bench during a game.

"We looked where the team was and how it was playing," Francis said. "It was moving in the right direction. We'd made a huge increase from where it was the year before to where we were that year. And quite honestly, we looked at that (physical-abuse) situation, we addressed it and we felt it was behind him."

The Hurricanes had jumped from 71 points the previous season to 86 points.

Francis would not specify what corrective action he took, saying such personnel issues are "not for public discussion." He was asked whether he'd handle the situation -- including the contract extension -- any differently today given what's come out lately about coaching abuses.

"I think you deal with it the best you can with the situation you have at the time," Francis said. "I think within the last week there have been some changes the league has made. I think that's positive moving forward. I don't claim to be perfect. I make mistakes. I try to learn every day from the people I talk with in situations. That's what I try to do and take that knowledge moving forward. And hopefully you're never in that situation again."

 

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Monday, addressing reporters at the league's board of governors meetings in California, said physical abuse and homophobic and racist comments will not be tolerated. Bettman added the league "doesn't like surprises," and the Peters situation was just that.

Going forward, he expects the league office to be informed by teams of any conduct incident they become aware of.

"There will be zero tolerance for any failure to notify us, and in the event of such failure the club and individuals involved can expect severe discipline," Bettman said.

Bettman also said he continues to explore discrepancies between former Carolina owner Peter Karmanos, who said in an interview with The Seattle Times he was never told about the physical abuse, and Francis, who later claimed he had briefed ownership.

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