New York Rangers Hall of Fame GM Emile Francis died, the team announced on Saturday. He was 95.
In a statement, Rangers president and general manager Chris Drury described Francis, popularly known at ‘The Cat’, as a true pioneer and innovator. The cause of death is unknown.
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“The New York Rangers and the entire hockey world are saddened to learn of the passing of Emile Francis.”
“Emile’s passion and dedication to the Rangers organization and growing the game of hockey in New York City was second to none. ‘The Cat’ was a true pioneer and innovator, as well as the architect and coach of some of the greatest teams in Rangers history,” Drury said.
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The Rangers president further said, “Emile has meant as much to the Rangers as any person who has been part of the organization throughout its history. Our thoughts are with Emile’s family and friends during this difficult time.”
Francis joined the New York Rangers in the 1948-49 season, after he was traded by the Blackhwaks. He appeared in 22 games for the Rangers in four seasons. The 95-year-old then coached the Guelph Royals, the team’s Ontario Hockey Association affiliate. He was the Royals for two seasons.
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Francis was then romoted to assistant general manager before ultimately taking over as both general manager and head coach in 1965.
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“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. 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,” senior advisor to the owner and alternate governor Glen Sather said.
During his tenure in New York, the Rangers made the Stanley Cup playoffs in nine consecutive seasons from 1966-67 to 1974-75. He also coached for parts of 10 seasons over three different stints.