Mr Francis, when you finally left, who let you go? Was it your decision?
“No. No, I’ll tell you who exactly it was. They brought a guy in by, uh...Cohen. He took over as the chief executive officer of Madison Square Garden, okay? So now we’re at war with the WHA. And I mean, here I’m doing everything. I’m the vice-president, the general manager, I’m the coach, I’m doing everything. So I said to myself, ya know, I’ve gotta bring a guy in to coach so I can get out there because the WHA were stealing our young players. And that was our future. So I brought in Ron Stewart to coach. So Christmas time, we were five points out of the last playoffs berth. I get a call Christmas Eve from Alan M. Cohen, was his name. Alan M. Cohen. He said, “Mr. Cohen calling ya.” I said fine. He said, “I’m going to make a proposal, you know, a suggestion. I want you to fire that coach you brought in here and you go back and coach yourself.” I said, “Mr. Cohen, I’ve run this team for sixteen years. I don’t need you or anybody else to tell me how to run this team. I’m not going to fire the coach, goodnight and goodbye.
“I left Friday night and I went to Montreal. We had a general managers meeting. I was the chairman of the general managers committee. That Sunday night, we finish our meeting about ten o’clock at night, I came back, I got a call from Bill Jennings. My phone rang. I had my chief scout with me (Steve Brklacich) because he was going to come back from scouting. It was Bill Jennings. He said, “I understand you talked to Mr. Cohen. Friday night.” I said, “Yeah, I did.” He said, “Well, after the conversation Mr. Cohen would like to meet you at Madison Square Garden, room 200 at 2 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.” I said, “Really?” He said, “Well, you’re slated to go to St. Louis to meet our team.” I said, “That’s right.” He said, “Well, you’d better come back to New York.” I says, “I’ll be there.
“So now I go back to New York. Shit, I was there ten o’clock in the morning, rarely when I’m in there like, you know, all the years I was there. I start picking things up, putting things to, my secretary comes, she said, “Mr. Francis, what are you doing?” I said, “Well, I have to meet with evidently Mr. Cohen and Mr. Jennings at three o’clock. I’m getting ready ‘cause I’m out of here.” She says, “You gotta be kidding.” I says, “I’m not.
“So I go up to room 200, the executive suite at Madison Square Garden. I press a little button on the door to get in and then here comes Bill Jennings. And he’s got a drink in his hand. Whatever the hell he was drinking, the ice was going back and forth like, you know? So he says, “Come on in.” So we walk in, I look around the room, I said, “Where’s Mr. Cohen?” This is the guy, you know, who’s supposed to call the shot on me. He says, “Well, a very important thing came up and he can’t be here today.” And I said, “Really? So what are we doing here?” He said, “Well, you have two choices. You can resign or you can be fired.” I said, “All the years I’ve been associated with you and you’re asking me to resign?”
And Cohen wouldn’t even be there to face you.
“Oh, no. He had a more important thing to go to. I said, “I can’t believe that you’d even suggest that to me. I’ve never quit anything in my life and I’m not going to quit now. If you wanna fire me, you go ahead and you fire me.” He said, “You’re fired.” I said, “Fine. So I had my briefcase beside me and he said, “It’ll take thirty minutes to put up a release.
I am a lifelong resident of Milford, Connecticut and have been married to my fantastic wife Jill for 29 years now. Our family is my daughter Kristin, my son Tim and his wife Kelly and a calico cat named Boo who, despite sleeping 22 hours a day, thinks she is more canine than feline. I graduated from Southern Connecticut State College with a degree in Earth Science which I quickly put to use in my career with the Federal Government in the communications field where I am on the road a lot. Yep, I’ve been a letter carrier since I graduated 29 years ago. Other than a few creative writing courses in high school and college, I have no formal training in writing and I hope it doesn’t show in this, my first book. I do claim the title of being the fastest one-fingered typist east of the Housatonic River.