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Emile Francis
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1982 (Builder)
Emile Francis New York Rangers 1973.jpg
Emile Francis with the New York Rangers, 1973
Born (1926-09-13) September 13, 1926 (age 95)
North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada
Height 5 ft 7 in (170 cm)
Weight 155 lb (70 kg; 11 st 1 lb)
Position Goaltender
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 Canadian former player, coach, and general manager in the National Hockey League, most notably with the New York Rangers. Francis was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982, and received the Wayne Gretzky International Award in 2015.[3][4]


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.[5]

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.[6]

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.

After being fired by the Rangers in January 1976, 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. In 1983 Francis took a position with the Hartford Whalers, serving as general manager 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, was reported missing after dropping Emile off at the Palm Beach International Airport for a flight to New Jersey. Neighbors reported not seeing Emma return home after driving to the airport. She was later found safe in a local hotel on October 2, 2007.[7]

Coaching record

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 4th 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


  1. ^ National Hockey League Guide and Record Book 1974-75 pg. 233
  2. ^ "Emile Francis New York Rangers - 2014-2015 Stats - New York Rangers - All Time Roster". Archived from the original on 2015-07-23. Retrieved 2015-07-22.
  3. ^ Saracini, Dustin (2016-01-04). "Emile Francis receives prestigious award". Battleford News-Optimist. Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  4. ^ Morreale, Mike (2015-12-17). "Emile Francis honored with Wayne Gretzky Award". Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  5. ^ a b "Legends of Hockey - Spotlight - One on One with Emile Francis". Retrieved 2015-07-22.
  6. ^ a b "Francis, Emile - Biography - Honoured Builder". Legends of Hockey. 1993-06-30. Retrieved 2015-07-22.
  7. ^ "Wife Of NHL Hall Of Famer Missing - West Palm Beach News Story - WPBF West Palm Beach". Archived from the original on 2011-07-09. Retrieved 2007-10-03.

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by Head coach of the New York Rangers
Succeeded by
Preceded by Head coach of the New York Rangers
Succeeded by
Larry Popein
Preceded by Head coach of the New York Rangers
Succeeded by
Preceded by Head coach of the St. Louis Blues
Succeeded by
Preceded by General Manager of the New York Rangers
Succeeded by
Preceded by General Manager of the St. Louis Blues
Succeeded by
Preceded by General Manager of the Hartford Whalers
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 17 January 2022, at 22:14
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