Don Waddell’s done, at least fornow: Northern Michigan University hockey alumnus steps down as team president, general manager of NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes

Don Waddell, head coach of the United States team, looks on during a game between the United States and Germany at the Germany Cup Hockey Tournament in Munich, Germany on Nov. 13, 2011. (AP file photo)

Don Waddell at Northern Michigan University:

• Don Waddell played during the first 4 years of Wildcat hockey from 1976-80

• Even as a defenseman, he’s in NMU’s top 10 all-time scorers with 172 points, which came in 120 games

• He was named Northern’s MVP and CCHA Player of the Year in 1978


Don Waddell, head coach of the United States team, gestures during the last match against Germany at the Germany Cup Hockey Tournament in Munich, Germany, Nov. 13, 2011. (AP file photo)

RALEIGH, N.C. — Don Waddell has stepped down as president and general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes, ending a run that had him build a roster that reached the NHL playoffs for six straight years.

The team announced Waddell’s decision in a news release Friday, saying assistant general manager Eric Tulsky would work as interim GM until a permanent successor was found.

Waddell, 65, played on the Northern Michigan University hockey team for its first four years of existence from 1976-80. Even as a defenseman, he is still the among the top 10 scorers in Wildcats’ history after he amassed 172 points, including 52 goals, in 120 games played.

In 1978, he was named Wildcats’ MVP and CCHA Player of the Year, and in 1980, his final season, Northern won the CCHA and lost in the NCAA national championship game to North Dakota.

After his playing career with Northern, he was a preliminary member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team before he broke his leg in a pretournament game, thus not making the cut to the team that famously played in the Winter Olympics and won the gold medal following a huge upset of the Soviet Union that was made into the 2004 movie “Miracle.”

Waddell played one game with the Los Angeles Kings in the 1980-81 season, then spent the rest of his playing career in the minor leagues and in Europe through the 1987-88 season.

He then moved into coaching for several years before he went into NHL team management, though he had several short stints as an interim head coach coming out of the front office.

He started with the front office of the Flint Spirits of the International Hockey League, the final team he played for, part of the time as player-coach. After positions with several other minor league teams, he became assistant general manager of the Detroit Red Wings for the 1997-98 season, a year they won the Stanley Cup.

Then he moved on to the Atlanta Thrashers as general manager from 1998-2010 and team president in the 2010-11 season. He left that organization when the Thrashers moved to become the Winnipeg Jets.

After a short stint as a scout with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he returned to NHL management with the Hurricanes in July 2014, overseeing business operations for the past 10 seasons.

He was named GM in May 2018 when the Hurricanes missed the playoffs for the ninth straight year and played a key role in Carolina building a perennial playoff team, with at least one series win in all six postseasons since.

Carolina lost to the Presidents’ Trophy-winning New York Rangers in the second round this year, with Waddell and coach Rod Brind’Amour holding their season-ending news conference earlier this week. That came as Brind’Amour, who took over to guide Carolina’s climb, re-signed with the team in a multiyear deal.

“This morning, I spoke with (majority owner Tom Dundon) and informed him that I have come to the decision that now is the time for me to move to the next chapter of my career,” Waddell said in a statement.

“I have loved my experiences in the Triangle (in central North Carolina) over the past 10 years, and together with a strong team, on and off the ice, we have accomplished many great victories. I am grateful for the support I have received from so many loyal Caniacs. This organization is in strong, capable hands and well-positioned for the future.”

The Columbus Blue Jackets are the only team with an active GM vacancy, and Waddell has been rumored to be among the candidates.

Tulsky has spent 10 seasons with the Hurricanes, first as a consultant before holding roles such as hockey analyst, manager of hockey analytics and vice president of hockey management and strategy. He has worked as assistant GM since 2020, with duties including oversight of pro scouting and the team’s hockey information department, as well as assisting in player-contract negotiations and salary cap compliance.

The team said assistant general manager Darren Yorke will support Tulsky in handling managerial duties as well.

Some of the information in this story was compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.


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