Influential N.C. sports execs: Don Waddell
general manager, Carolina Hurricanes
Last year, Waddell was named general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes after five years as president. It was widely considered a last-resort option, following the departure of franchise icon Ron Francis. Waddell quickly restructured the team by trading a few top veterans and adding nine key players through the draft or acquisition. Average attendance increased 17% to 13,320 as the ’Canes became the league’s lovable villains, branded a “Bunch of Jerks” for their postgame celebrations. The team reached the Eastern Conference finals, ending a decade-long playoff drought. The Detroit native played minor league hockey for a decade before entering the sport’s business side in 1988.