One of Sault Ste. Marie’s greatest athletes was honoured on October 5, 2016, as lower Bruce Street was officially renamed to “Ron Francis Way.” Ron and his family were on hand for the occasion and Ron addressed the crowd, speaking about his pride of coming from Sault Ste. Marie.
Ron grew up in the west end of Sault Ste. Marie, playing hockey as a youth before working his way up to the Soo Greyhounds as a teenager. At the age of 19, he was drafted in the first-round (4th overall) of the NHL draft by the Hartford Whalers
During his 23-season NHL playing career, Ron became a two-time Stanley Cup champion. He is presently 5th all-time on the NHL scoring list and 3rd all-time for games played. In addition to several all-star nods, Ron also won the Frank J. Selke trophy, the King Clancy award for leadership and humanitarian work, and the Lady Byng Trophy for most gentlemanly player on three occasions. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007 and the number 10 jersey that he wore with the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes franchise was retired.
Today, Ron’s professional hockey journey is continuing as the General Manager of the Carolina Hurricanes. He has also been noted for his humanitarian work with families of hospitalized children and the Special Olympics.
Both Mayor Provenzano and Councillor Paul Christian spoke at the official sign unveiling on October 5th outside of the Essar Centre. Councillor Christian penned the original council resolution to explore ways of recognizing Ron Francis in 2015.
The ceremony took place just prior to an NHL exhibition game at the Essar Centre between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Buffalo Sabres. Carolina would ultimately prevail, winning 3-2 in an overtime shootout.
(Above: The new street sign is officially unveiled.)