Less than 48 hours before he was to become an unrestricted free agent, Sault Ste. Marie native Ron Francis has agreed to a two-year contract extension with the NHL Carolina Hurricanes. Francis was poised to become a free agent as of Monday but after a face-to-face meeting with Hurricanes' general manager Jim Rutherford, he accepted the contract extension, which will pay him $11 million. The 39-year old Francis is coming off a 77-point season with the Hurricanes. He added 16 points as Carolina went on an improbable playoff run that finally ended when they lost to the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup finals. Francis, who has played 21 seasons in the NHL, has 1,701 career points, fifth best on the NHL all-time scoring list. The slick centre had told SooToday.com that he wanted to remain with the Hurricanes, for whom he has played four seasons. But while Francis wanted a two-year deal, Rutherford had been offering only one. But after the two got together for dinner on Thursday, Rutherford decided to give in to the extra year and the contract was signed on Saturday. "The bottom line is he's our best player and we didn't want to lose him," said Rutherford, who added that Francis has been offered a job in the Carolina organization as a consultant when his playing days are over. "It didn't look as though this was going to get done until Jim and I had dinner together," Francis related. "I'm relieved. I was prepared to become a free agent even though I wanted to stay with the Hurricanes."