Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pat and The "Cat"

It was interesting on Saturday night to watch Luke (Leafs) and Brayden (Flyers) Schenn face one another when the two teams met at the Air Canada Centre.

Born in Saskatchewan, the two brothers hooked-up for a family meal the night prior to their contest. However, once the puck was dropped, it was all business.

Back in 1952, another brother combination from Saskatchewan (North Battlefield) had the opportunity to share a hockey experience. Although only one laced up the skates, it was still a special occasion for both to be a part of.

During the 1951-52 campaign, Emile Francis spent the bulk of his time tending goal for the Cincinnati Mohawks of the American Hockey League. Also, he donned the pads for the New York Rangers in five games posting a 1-1-2 record.

Early in the new year of 1952, Francis welcomed a guest to his Cincinnati home, his brother Pat. What made the visit so special was the fact Pat never witnessed his brother play in a professional hockey game. Emile became a pro in 1943-44 with the Philadelphia Falcons in the EAHL.



While on a three week vacation, Pat, pictured with Emile (L) in the above photo, made the trip to Ohio and soaked up the atmosphere. In attendance for a contest on January 13, 1952 against the St. Louis Flyers, Pat watched as his big brother posted his third shutout of the season.

A United Press report provided some details on the game.

"Francis delighted 3,300 Cincinnati fans with a series of fine saves last night and teammates Ian MacIntosh and Paul Masnick scored in the final period to give the Mohawks a 2 to 0 victory over the St. Louis Flyers," noted UPI.

After hanging up his pads for good following the 1959-60 hockey year with Spokane in the WHL, Emile Francis looked to stay in the game. At first, it appeared Francis was in-line to coach the junior club in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Former NHL goalie, Tiny Thompson, who worked for the Chicago Black Hawks saw a future for the retired goalie in the Hawks system. Thompson had a vision of Francis eventually becoming the head coach in the Windy City. Francis, with his rights still belonging to Chicago, waited for Hawks general manager Tommy Ivan and Moose Jaw owner Roy McBride to workout a deal for him to return to his home province.

When this didn't materialize, Francis was contacted my Muzz Patrick of the New York Rangers. In a matter of hours, Chicago and New York hammered out a deal to allow Francis to jump to the Rangers. His first assignment in the organization was to coach the junior team in Guelph, Ontario.

Like most hockey people, his ultimate goal was to be employed at the NHL level by an Original Six franchise. In 1962, Francis was summoned to the Big Apple where he would work over the next 14-years with the New York Rangers.

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