Emile Francis

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Emile Francis
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1982
Emile Francis New York Rangers 1973.jpg
Emile Francis with the New York Rangers, 1973
Born (1926-09-13) September 13, 1926 (age 88)
North Battleford, SK, CAN
Height 5 ft 7 in (170 cm)
Weight 155 lb (70 kg; 11 st 1 lb)
Position Goalie
Caught Left
Played for Chicago Black Hawks
New York Rangers
Playing career 1943–1960

Emile Percival Francis[1] (born September 13, 1926), nicknamed "The Cat",[2] is a former player, coach, and general manager in the National Hockey League, most notably with the New York Rangers.

Francis grew up playing a number of positions on the ice, but he converted to the goaltender slot after his uncle noticed the range that he had developed by also serving as a baseball shortstop. He became a star in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and was pursued for a professional contract by the Chicago Black Hawks. In 1947, he was called up to a squad mired in last place and took over the starting role in net. His unique use of a catching mitt based upon the design of a baseball first baseman's glove drew the attention of league officials; Francis argued that the popular gloves of the time put too much strain on the hand of goalkeepers, and, after gaining executive approval, equipment based on Francis's glove became commonplace.[3]

After starting on a dismal Chicago team in 1948-49, Francis was traded to the New York Rangers as part of a major personnel shakeup. Over the next four years, he would play sparingly in a relief role for the Rangers while manning the spot between the pipes on New York's American Hockey League affiliate. He finished his career in Western Hockey League, including stints with the Vancouver Canucks, Saskatoon Quakers and Seattle Americans.[4]

Upon retirement in 1960, Francis was sought after for his leadership skills, and he joined the Rangers organization as coach of the OHA's Guelph Royals. Two years later, he was summoned to the Rangers and became assistant general manager, and in 1965, he took over as both general manager and head coach. Although he coached a struggling team during his first season, Francis would remain behind the bench for ten seasons (except for brief moves to a solely front office position in 1968 and 1973), making the playoffs in each year and leading his team to a loss in the 1972 Stanley Cup Finals. In 1975, he joined the St. Louis Blues as general manager and executive vice president. He was instrumental in finding a local owner for the financially troubled franchise in the early 1980s, and he also returned to the bench for two separate head coaching stints. Francis then took a position with the Hartford Whalers, serving as general manager from until 1988 and team president from 1988 until 1993.[5]

In retirement, Francis has supported junior hockey in the New York and St. Louis markets. He is the father of former Phoenix Coyotes head coach and 2002 Jack Adams Award winner Bobby Francis.[6]

On Sunday, September 30, 2007, Francis' wife, Emma Francis, was reported missing after dropping Emile off at the Palm Beach International Airport for a flight to New Jersey. Neighbors reported not seeing Emma Francis return home after driving to the airport. She was later found safe in a local hotel on October 2, 2007.[7]

Coaching record[edit]

Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L T Pts Finish Result
New York Rangers 1965-66 50 13 31 6 (32) 6th in NHL Missed playoffs
New York Rangers 1966-67 70 30 28 12 72 4th in NHL Lost in Semi-Finals
New York Rangers 1967-68 74 39 23 12 90 2nd in East Lost in Quarter Finals
New York Rangers 1968-69 33 19 8 6 (42) 3rd in East Lost in Quarter-Finals
New York Rangers 1969-70 76 38 22 16 92 2nd in East Lost in Quarter-Finals
New York Rangers 1970-71 78 49 18 11 109 2nd in East Lost in Semi-Finals
New York Rangers 1971-72 78 48 17 13 109 2nd in East Lost in Cup Final
New York Rangers 1972-73 78 47 23 8 102 3rd in East Lost in Semi-Finals
New York Rangers 1973-74 37 22 10 5 (49) 3rd in East Lost in Semi-Finals
New York Rangers 1974-75 80 37 29 14 88 2nd in Patrick Lost in Preliminary Round
St. Louis Blues 1976-77 80 32 39 9 73 1st in Smythe Lost in Quarter-Finals
St. Louis Blues 1981-82 12 4 6 2 (10) 3rd in Norris Lost in Division Finals
St. Louis Blues 1982-83 32 10 19 3 (23) 4th in Norris (returned to GM's position)
Total 778 388 273 117

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Red Sullivan
Head coach of the New York Rangers
196568
Succeeded by
Bernie Geoffrion
Preceded by
Bernie Geoffrion
Head coach of the New York Rangers
196973
Succeeded by
Larry Popein
Preceded by
Larry Popein
Head coach of the New York Rangers
197375
Succeeded by
Ron Stewart
Preceded by
Leo Boivin
Red Berenson
Head coach of the St. Louis Blues
1976-77
1982
Succeeded by
Leo Boivin
Barclay Plager
Preceded by
Muzz Patrick
General Manager of the New York Rangers
196476
Succeeded by
John Ferguson Sr
Preceded by
Dennis Ball
General Manager of the St. Louis Blues
1976-83
Succeeded by
Ron Caron
Preceded by
Larry Pleau
General Manager of the Hartford Whalers
1983-89
Succeeded by
Eddie Johnston