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Francis named HHOF honoree for AHL All-Star Classic

francis_200.jpgSPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Emile Francis will serve as the Hockey Hall of Fame honoree at the 2008 AHL All-Star Classic, to be held January 27-28 at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton, N.Y.

Francis spent six seasons in the American Hockey League during his 14-year professional playing career, tending goal for the New Haven Ramblers, Cincinnati Mohawks and Cleveland Barons. He was a Second Team AHL All-Star in 1953-54, when he led the league with 37 wins and five shutouts and backstopped Cleveland to a Calder Cup championship. In addition to his outstanding playing career, Francis’s work as an executive made him one of the most respected individuals in hockey, and earned him election into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 1982.

Francis coached the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1972 and was their general manager from 1964-75, and later joined the St. Louis Blues as executive vice president, general manager and coach. After building winning teams in New York and St. Louis, Francis joined the Hartford Whalers, then the parent club of the AHL’s Binghamton Whalers, as president and general manager in 1983, and stayed on as team president until his retirement in 1993. In 2001, the AHL recognized his contributions by establishing the Emile Francis Trophy, which is presented annually to the champions of the Atlantic Division.

A longtime supporter of minor hockey, Francis has been involved in the establishment and development of several amateur hockey programs and schools, and was a recipient of the Lester Patrick Trophy for contributions to hockey in the United States in 1982.

Francis will be the honored guest at the annual Hockey Hall of Fame/AHL All-Star Luncheon, which each year honors a Hockey Hall of Famer with ties to the AHL. Past honorees include Andy Bathgate, Serge Savard, Larry Robinson, Billy Smith, Grant Fuhr, Rod Langway, Brad Park, George Armstrong, Glen Sather, Bill Torrey, Al Arbour, Bill Barber, Ken Dryden, Lorne “Gump” Worsley, Johnny Bower and Glenn Hall.

All told, more than 100 of the Hall’s honored members are AHL alumni.

The 2008 AHL All-Star Classic will take place at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton, home of the AHL’s Senators. The event features the 2008 AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, January 27 (7:00 ET) and the 2008 AHL All-Star Game on Monday, January 28 (7:00 ET), and will be televised live in the United States and Canada.

Of the 427 players to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic since 1995, more than 93 percent have competed in the National Hockey League, including Patrice Bergeron, Brad Boyes, Daniel Briere, Zdeno Chara, Jonathan Cheechoo, Pavol Demitra, Rick DiPietro, Patrik Elias, Ray Emery, Jiri Hudler, Miikka Kiprusoff, Kari Lehtonen, Ryan Miller, Martin St. Louis, Jason Spezza, Eric Staal and Steve Sullivan.