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09-28-2012, 11:44 AM
Leaf Rocket
Leaf Fan Till I Die
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Fredericton, NB
Country: India
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Really a heartbreaking story
Step after clunky step, Bob Francis arrives for his morning workout.

He grits his teeth. He jerks his walker forward, followed by an awkward swing of the leg.

His body has atrophied. His balance and equilibrium are gone.

The former Coyotes coach can no longer stand on his own two feet.

Onlookers at a Scottsdale health club try not to stare. But his determination is both inspiring and heartbreaking. Especially for those who recognize the face, the mustache, the man who was once named best coach in the NHL.

“People here, they’re all curious,” said Francis, 53. “They don’t want to ask, but they want to know: Were you in a serious car accident? Do you have MS (multiple sclerosis)? Do you have brain function problems?

“It’s a long process trying to explain everything. No, I wasn’t in a serious car accident. No, I’m not dying. I wish I had an explanation.”

Looking at the withered coach, it’s easy to believe in cursed hockey franchises. Francis is a recovering alcoholic who lost his first wife and his career. As a player, he suffered too many concussions to count, likely triggering his current condition.

Now, he is searching for answers, struggling to regain some quality of life, pushing that walker down the jagged path of life.

“As many times as I’ve cursed this walker out, the truth is, I need it,” Francis said. “If I’m not leaning on something, I’m down.

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