May 2, 2013, 10:47 AM EDT
Ron Francis has won a Stanley Cup, a Selke Trophy and has been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame during his illustrious career.
Now, he can add another accomplishment to his resume.
On Wednesday, Francis was officially announced as the first hockey player to ever be inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, joining former UNC running back Kelvin Bryant, former UNC basketball coach Bill Guthridge and ex-Cincinnati Reds second baseman Tommy Helms.
“The Carolina Hurricanes mean so much to the state of North Carolina and our sports history,” said Don Fish, the executive director of the Hall of Fame. “Ron is a part of that heritage. It was time to include a champion.
“Ron Francis changed the face of hockey in this state.”
Francis spent six years with the ‘Canes (1998-2004), emerging as a key figure on the ’02 team that made a surprising run to the Stanley Cup finals. At 38, Francis served as captain and led the club in both regular-season and playoff scoring.
On Jan. 28, 2006, the Hurricanes retired Francis’ No. 10 jersey, and in 2007, Francis was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Fish said Francis’ induction solidifies hockey’s growing popularity in the state of North Carolina.
“It’s a sport that is relatively new in time but is so popular,” he explained. “No question about it: hockey will be recognized forever in this state.”
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