Emile Francis, the Hall of Fame former New York Rangers coach and GM has died at the age of 95, the team announced Saturday. No cause of death was given.
“I mourn the loss of my dear friend, Emile Francis. I had the privilege to play for Emile, coach against him, and work in the league as a general manager at the same time as him,” Rangers senior advisor and alternate governor Glen Sather said. “I always admired Emile’s passion and dedication, and he was one of the true characters of our game. I’d like to express my deepest condolences to everyone who knew and loved Emile.”
As a player, Francis, nicknamed “The Cat,” appeared in 95 games as a goaltender with the Chicago Blackhawks and Rangers over the course of six seasons, though most of his playing days were spent in the minors
As GM and coach of the Rangers, he led the team to the playoffs in nine straight seasons from 1966 to 1975, including three consecutive 100-point seasons and the 1972 Stanley Cup Final. His tenure saw the development of star players including Rod Gilbert, Jean Ratelle and Brad Park.
Francis finished out his career in multiple roles with the St. Louis Blues and Hartford Whalers from 1983 to 1993. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982 and later earned the Wayne Gretzky International Award, a lifetime achievement award recognizing “individuals who have made major contributions to the growth and advancement of ice hockey in the United States,” in 2015.
“The National Hockey League mourns the passing of Emile Francis, a Hall of Fame coach and general manager whose infectious personality was as beloved as his hockey acumen was revered,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a release. “The NHL sends its deepest condolences to his family and to his many friends and admirers.”