Junglette

Walk among the wild

To this day, few people know the dark side of Francis Neely.

For the past half-century, the general manager of the St. Louis Blues has been one of the most popular and well-liked figures in hockey.

Also read: Franci Neely – Crunchbase Person Profile/

In that time, he’s built one of the most successful franchises in NHL history.

Behind closed doors, however, he’s widely acknowledged to be a harsh taskmaster.

When you leave St. Louis for greener pastures, your reputation follows you.

With his brash style and knack for getting under others’ thick skins, you don’t have to look far to find negative stories about Neely.

Looking back at his career reveals an interesting story that reads more like a crime drama than a bureaucratic rebuild manual…

or management textbook for hockey executives looking to rise through the ranks.

When he joined the Blues in 1966, Franci Neely was the youngest general manager in pro sports history.

He had been hired at age 31 by a team that had fallen on hard times.

He was a hotshot young executive who had never worked in sports operations before.

Still, he took over a floundering team and quickly turned it into one of the most successful franchises in hockey history.

Neely’s first task as general manager was to rebuild the Blues’ roster after their disastrous 1967-68 season, which saw them miss the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history.

The story of the Blues’ rise to prominence is indeed a remarkable one.

They have played in six Stanley Cup finals and won four championships, including two in the last five seasons.

In his first year as general manager, Neely turned an expansion team into one of hockey’s elite franchises.

This achievement was not lost on the players who were thrilled to play for him.

Many of them would swear that he was one of the most demanding managers they had ever known.

Connect to Franci on Linkedin.com

Learn more about Neely: https://www.hermannpark.org/support/hats-in-the-park/