Emile Francis built the Rangers his way

But that was Emile’s way, and it was always teamwork. He was obsessed with not having anything out of place. I attended training camp o...


But that was Emile’s way, and it was always teamwork. He was obsessed with not having anything out of place.

I attended training camp one fall in Kitchener, Ontario with my wife and granddaughter. Francis told the front desk person to put us in a room at the back of the hotel – he didn’t want a woman at training camp. Too distracting.

I was so fascinated by the game – and by it – that I wrote a book called “A Year on Ice”, which chronicled the 1969-70 roller coaster season (and, I’m proud to say, just to be made into a fictional film). To add what I thought at the time to be complete honesty, I included a paragraph describing a woman tearfully walking out of a player’s hotel room. That was it. Some sentences.

Just when the book came out, Francis was embroiled in contract battles with some of his stars. He suspended Brad Park, Jean Ratelle, Vic Hadfield and Walt Tkaczuk because they refused to play an exhibition in training camp without a contract. It was the beginning of players fighting for their rights in hockey. I wrote a lot about their requests, and Francis was not happy.

Everything was resolved after bitter battles. Then, a few weeks after the book was published, at Skateland, the team’s practice rink in New Hyde Park, NY, the coach said to me, “Emile would like to see you in the locker room.”

I walked in and there he was, in the middle of the room, with the whole team. He said, “I want you to hear this,” and he read the clip about the woman running out of the player’s hotel room.

“And he’s the guy you’re talking to, do you trust him?” said Francis looking at me. Then he added, “Get out.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Emile Francis built the Rangers his way
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