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Phoenix fires Francis
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Old 24 Feb 2004, 07:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Phoenix fires Francis

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bob Francis was fired as coach of the struggling Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday after leading the team to the playoffs twice in the last four seasons.

The Coyotes have won just two of their last 14 games and are in last place in the Pacific Division and 13th in the Western Conference with a record of 20-24-15-3.


Assistant Rick Bowness, former head coach at Ottawa, was named interim coach for the remainder of the season.


"We felt that it was time for a change in direction," general manager Michael Barnett said. "Sometimes, good coaches get replaced. Bob is a good coach and we wish him all the best in the future."


Later Tuesday, the St. Louis Blues fired Joel Quenneville, the winningest coach in franchise history, and replaced him with assistant Mike Kitchen.


Francis, the son of Hall of Famer Emile Francis, had a record of 165-144-60-21 in just under five seasons with Phoenix. He is the franchise leader in victories and games coached. He was the NHL's coach of the year after leading the Coyotes to a 40-27-9-6 record in 2001-02.


Bowness, a fifth-year assistant with Phoenix, has coached four NHL teams. He led the Winnipeg Jets (1988-89), Boston Bruins (1991-92), Ottawa Senators (1992-96) and the New York Islanders (1996-98).


"Rick is a proven NHL coach with a wealth of hockey knowledge," Barnett said. "He is an excellent communicator and has a good history of working with young players.


"We are confident that Rick and his coaching staff will do a great job in preparing our players as we strive to make the playoffs."


Bowness' first coaching job was during the 1988-89 season, when he became was interim head coach of the Jets, which later became the Coyotes, for the final 28 games.


His finest season as a head coach was 1991-92, when he led the Bruins to a 36-32-12 record

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