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Francis steps away to focus on front-office job

Hall of Fame player Ron Francis is giving up his spot on the Carolina Hurricanes' coaching staff to focus on his front-office job with the club.

General manager Jim Rutherford said Tuesday that the mutual decision to shift Francis back into the front office was "something that had been planned" for years and wasn't in response to the team missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.

Francis was promoted to assistant general manager in 2007 and a year later added coaching responsibilities when Paul Maurice was hired as head coach.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the end of the regular season, Rutherford voiced support for Maurice, saying he "has done a very good job coaching the Hurricanes two out of the last three years."