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Thursday, June 13
Updated: June 14, 12:35 AM ET
Veteran Francis to return for 22nd season

Associated Press

DETROIT -- It looks like Ron Francis will be back for another season as the captain of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Ron Francis

Francis scored 77 points in leading the Hurricanes to their first Stanley Cup finals, but next season is the option year of a five-year deal he signed in 1998.

The 39-year-old center is in line to get $2 million to play, or $1 million if he retires.

"Yeah, I have to talk to Jimmy, but I would like to,'' Francis said Thursday night when asked if he will be back for the 2002-03 season, which would be his 22nd.

Jim Rutherford, the team's general manager, said the two would get together next week to begin contract talks.

"He said as soon as the games were done we would sit down and talk, so that's good news, I'm glad to hear that,'' Rutherford said following the 3-1 loss that eliminated Carolina from the Cup finals. "He had a great year, he's healthy and he's still having fun. So, I am not surprised.''

Francis made $5 million this season. The club will likely renegotiate terms of his option year and anything beyond.

"That's good news if we can put the team back together,'' owner Peter Karmanos said about Francis.

Francis is second on the all-time NHL assist list with 1,187 and he scored his 500th goal this season. He's also a finalist for the Lady Byng and Masterton trophies, to be awarded by the league next week.


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