Ice Hockey Player Emile Francis Sadly Passed Away at 95
Sadly, the diminutive goalie Emile “The Cat” Francis passed away at the age of 95. He became a Hall of Fame coach and general manager with the New York Rangers. The Rangers announced his death on Saturday night, February 19, 2022.
Emile Percival Francis was general manager of the Rangers from 1964 to 1976, also serving as a coach for parts of 10 seasons at that time. New York made nine consecutive playoff appearances in his time, reaching at least the semifinals in four consecutive years from 1971 to 1974 and the Stanley Cup Final in 1972.
As Rangers coach, he was 342-209-103 and holds the franchise records for regular wins and games and playoff wins. He also put the famous G-A-G line for goal-a-game of Rod Gilbert, Jean Ratelle, and Vic Hadfield together.
After he was fired by the Rangers in 1976, he was general manager of the St. Louis Blues from 1976 to 1983, serving two stints as a coach in 1976 and 1977 and 1981 to 1983 and compiling a 46-64-14 record. He then left to become general manager of the Hartford Whalers from 1983 to 1989.
Emile Francis received the Lester Patrick Trophy for service to hockey in 1982, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Builder that year.
He also was selected as the recipient of the US Hockey Hall of Fame’s Wayne Gretzky International Award in 2015 for contributions to the development and advancement of the sport in the US.
From North Battleford, Saskatchewan, the 5-foot-7 Francis was 32-52-10 with a 3.75 goals-against average and one shutout in 95 NHL games in six seasons with the Rangers and Chicago.
Off the ice, he created the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League to promote the sport for youngsters in NYC and organized youth clinics in the community. The Rangers named an award for him in 2008, awarded to an individual who grows youth hockey in the area.
More about Emile Francis’ Life and Career
Bernie Federko autographed a few of his sticks for his brothers who had traveled down from Canada to watch him play as a Blues rookie in 1976-77. That was the Blues’ financial situation at the time.
The squad was practically bankrupt in 1977. Francis, who served as the team’s president, general manager, and head coach, ceased to attend league meetings.
The Blues’ front office was down to three staff at one point in 1977. Francis’ first three Blues teams all had losing records, the lowest of which was an 18-50-2 record in 1978-1979, which is remains the worst in franchise history. However, the next season, they finished 34-34-12, the first of 25 Blues playoff teams in a row.
In 1980-1981, they improved to 45-18-17, coming close to capturing the Presidents Trophy. For many years, that was the franchise’s best record. Liut had already signed with the Blues and was a rising star.
News of Francis’ death brought back memories of those days with Francis for Larry Patey, who scored 22 goals for the 1980-1981 club.
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Reactions to Emile Francis’ Death
After Emile Francis passed away, several fans, friends, and supporters reacted and stated their condolences on social media websites following this tragic news.
A fan tweeted: “Hard to believe today. From the obituary for Emile Francis in today’s @globeandmail. He was the coach of my childhood favourite team the NY Rangers. May he rest in peace and get a Stanley Cup in heaven.”
Another wrote: “When I was a young boy, it was the @NYRangers team cobbled by Emile Francis that got me interested in hockey to the point that I listened to the 1972 playoffs on transistor radio earphones during evening journalism workshops at the @PokJournal. #RIP”
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