New York Rangers: Emile Francis
Again with a franchise dating back as far as the New York Rangers, choosing a most beloved coach is no easy task. The Rangers have had coaches who’ve won multiple cups, and one who ended a long drought, but the most beloved goes to one who never won a cup, Emile “The Cat” Francis.
In 1965, Francis took over as coach and general manager of the Rangers, a team that had missed the playoffs seven of the last eight seasons and hadn’t won a playoff round in almost 15 years. Though they missed the playoffs in his first partial season, the Rangers made their triumphant return in the next season.
Francis would take the Rangers to the playoffs every single year he had coached them, thought it would take four seasons for them to advance past round one. Francis kept the Rangers pushing and pushing to get farther then they should’ve every single year. Eventually in 1972, Francis got the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final.
Numerous times he tried to step down as head coach to the go to the front office, but nobody else could motivate the Rangers like Emile Francis could, and he always ended up back behind the bench before long. The players loved him, the fans loved him and management loved what he did with a struggling team.
Nobody else could’ve done what Francis did. Francis turned the Rangers franchise around, rebuilt the organization from the core up and created one of the best powerhouse teams in the NHL by the time he left the New York Rangers organization about a decade later.