NHL: St. Louis Blues at Carolina Hurricanes
Ron Francis will now serve as president of hockey operations in Carolina. James Guillory / USA TODAY Sports

There appears to be a storm swirling in the Carolina Hurricanes' front office.

The team announced on Wednesday that Ron Francis had been relieved of his duties as general manager, a role in which he had served since 2014. Francis will remain with the Hurricanes organization, serving instead as the team's president of hockey operations moving forward. 

It's not believed to be a promotion.

It may seem like a surprising move by the Hurricanes, who are currently just four points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but there was apparently some internal front office rift between Francis and Canes owner Thomas Dundon.

Dundon, who is an American businessman from Dallas, became the Hurricanes' majority owner in January after purchasing 61 percent of the team for $420 million.

"Since I took control of the team, I've had a good chance to be around and assess the operations," said Dundon in a press release. "There are a lot of good people working in the organization, but I feel that a change in direction is needed when it comes to hockey personnel decisions.

Ron is a smart and talented hockey man. I am glad that he will continue to be a part of the team, serving in this new role."

The team has yet to name a replacement for Francis and will conduct a search for a new general manager, who will report directly to Dundon.

After spending six seasons with the Hurricanes as a player, Francis has been employed by the team in a management role for the past 12 years. His tenure as general manager was one with both positives and negatives. Francis played a key role in establishing a solid young core and some depth in Carolina, but he has also struck out on several trades and signings.

One of Francis' failings as a general manager was finding a long-term goaltending replacement for veteran Cam Ward. Last offseason, Francis traded for Chicago Blackhawks backup Scott Darling and gave him a four-year contract worth $16.6 million. Darling has struggled in his first year as a starter, and his .889 save percentage is league-worst amongst goalies with at least 20 starts this season.

With the Hurricanes still in the thick of the playoff race, it'll be interesting to see how quickly they name a replacement in Carolina.