Robbie Ftorek

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Robbie Ftorek
Born (1952-01-02) January 2, 1952 (age 62)
Needham, MA, USA
Height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight 155 lb (70 kg; 11 st 1 lb)
Position Forward
Shot Right
Played for NHL
Detroit Red Wings
Quebec Nordiques
New York Rangers
WHA
Phoenix Roadruners
Cincinnati Stingers
National team  United States
Playing career 1972–1986
Olympic medal record
Competitor for  United States
Men's ice hockey
Silver 1972 Sapporo Ice hockey

Robert Brian Ftorek (born January 2, 1952 in Needham, Massachusetts) is a former NHL player and coach. He was enshrined as member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.[1] Ftorek is currently an assistant coach with the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League.

Playing career[edit]

As a player, he was a member of the 1972 United States Olympic Hockey team that surprisingly won the silver medal at the 1972 Winter Olympics. Ftorek also played for Team USA at the 1972 "Pool B" Ice Hockey World Championship where he was selected to the tournament all-star team. Originally drafted by the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association in 1972, he instead signed with the NHL's Detroit Red Wings. However, the Red Wings regarded Ftorek as too small to make it as a professional and he only appeared in a handful of NHL games. Having spent most of his time in the minors with the AHL's Virginia Wings, Ftorek decided to move over to the WHA in 1974, and it was at this time the Whalers traded his WHA rights to the Phoenix Roadrunners. Ftorek quickly became the Roadrunners' biggest star and he made history in 1977 when he won the Gordie Howe Trophy as the league's most valuable player—the first American ice hockey player in major professional hockey to accomplish this feat. Ftorek confirmed his status as the most accomplished American player of the 1970s in the inaugural 1976 Canada Cup where he was elected MVP of Team USA and also was the US team's leading scorer. After playing parts of three seasons in Phoenix and when the Roadrunners franchise folded, Ftorek signed with the Cincinnati Stingers. After the WHA folded following the 1978–79 season, he signed with the Quebec Nordiques of the NHL and served as the team's captain in 1981. Ftorek played for Team USA at the 1981 Canada Cup tournament. He was traded to the New York Rangers during the 1981–82 NHL season, where he played through the 1984–85 NHL season and finished his NHL career. He played several seasons with the New Haven Nighthawks before retiring from professional play.

Ftorek was member of the Tulsa Oilers (CHL) team that suspended operations on February 16, 1984, playing only road games for final six weeks of 1983–84 season. Despite this adversity, the team went on to win the league's championship.[2]

Ftorek completed his NHL career with 77 goals, 150 assists, 227 points, and 262 penalty minutes in 334 games.[3] In his WHA career, Ftorek tallied 216 goals, 307 assists, 523 points, and 365 penalty minutes in 373 games,[3] making him 6th on the WHA's all-time points list, and 9th in both the WHA's all-time career goal and assist leaders. His other WHA accomplishments include participating in the 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979 WHA All-Star games as well as making the All-WHA 1st team in 1977, 1979 and the All-WHA 2nd team in 1976 and 1978.[3]

Coaching career[edit]

He began his professional coaching career with the AHL's New Haven Nighthawks in 1985. He remained with then until the 1987–88 season when he moved up to the NHL as the Los Angeles Kings head coach until 1989. Following this, Ftorek was an assistant coach for the Quebec Nordiques and New Jersey Devils in the NHL. In 1992, he was named head coach of the AHL's Utica Devils and remained as head coach when the team became the Albany River Rats. In 1995, the same year the River Rats' parent club, the New Jersey Devils, won the Stanley Cup, Ftorek led the River Rats to the Calder Cup in the AHL. In 1996, Ftorek began his second stint as a New Jersey Devils assistant coach, then took the head coach's position in 1998. In 2000, he led the Devils back into the playoffs but was fired by Lamoriello with 9 games remaining in the regular season. Assistant coach Larry Robinson replaced him and the Devils went on to win their 2nd Stanley Cup. Ftorek remained with the team as a scout, and had his name engraved on the Stanley Cup for second time in 2000. Ftorek joined the Boston Bruins as head coach in 2001. However, after two years of poor efforts by his teams, Ftorek was fired late in the 2002–03 season with only 9 games remaining in the season. Bruins GM Mike O'Connell took over as coach for the rest of the season. In 2003, Ftorek rejoined the Devils as head coach of their AHL affiliate in Albany. The team moved to Lowell, Massachusetts to become the Lowell Devils. Devs CEO/President/GM Lou Lamoriello stated that Ftorek would not be retained as head coach of the team.

On January 29, 2000, the Devils played a memorable game against Detroit. Particularly memorable for Ftorek was the game's officiating. In the second period, the Devils' Jay Pandolfo was involved in a collision with Detroit's Mathieu Dandenault that left Pandolfo's face bloody after a collision with the boards in the Red Wings zone.[4] The officials allowed play to continue, only for Kirk Maltby to skate down to the other end of the rink and score a goal that gave Detroit a 3–1 lead.[4] So irate was Ftorek over play not being stopped because of Pandolfo's injury, that Ftorek hurled the Devils' wooden bench onto the ice, resulting in Ftorek's ejection from the game, and subsequent one-game suspension.[4]

Ftorek holds the dubious distinction of being the only coach to be sacked by two different teams in the final days of what was a winning regular season for that team – first New Jersey in 1999–2000 and then Boston in 2002–03. His record was 41–20–8–5 with the Devils and 33–28–8–4 with the Bruins.

In October 2007, Ftorek was hired as the head coach of the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League, replacing Peter Sidorkiewicz. Ftorek led the Otters to a 15–34–4 record over their final 53 games as the team missed the playoffs for their third consecutive season. In 2008–09, the Otters returned to the post-season as they improved to a 34–29–5 record, earning 73 points. Erie was then eliminated by the London Knights in the first round of the playoffs. The Otters made their second straight playoff appearance in 2009–10, as they had a record of 33–28–7, earning 73 points once again. Erie would then be eliminated in the first round once again, as the Windsor Spitfires swept the Otters in four games. The Otters improved their point total once again in 2010–11, winning 40 games and earning 82 points, and a third straight post-season appearance. Erie would take the two-time Memorial Cup champions Windsor Spitfires to seven games before being eliminated. The 2011-2012 campaign for Ftorek and the Erie Otters was incredibly dismal, as the Otters dealt with a rebuilding roster after losing many large stars of the previous years, ending the season with the Ontario Hockey League's third worst season by a single team in its history at 10-52-6.

On November 29, 2012, The Erie Otters announced that they Ftorek was relieved of his head coaching duties. Kris Knoblauch, the former coach of the Kootenay Ice has been signed as Ftorek's successor.[5][6][7]

August 7, 2013, the Calgary Flames hired Ftorek as an assistant coach for their AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat.[8]

Honours[edit]

In 2010, he was part of the initial group of players elected to the World Hockey Association Hall of Fame.[9]

Statistics[edit]

Playing career[edit]

Season Team league Regular Season Playoffs
Games G A PTS PEN PJ B A PTS PEN[10]
1971–72 United States national team Int. 51 25 47 72 36          
1972–73 Virginia Wings AHL 55 17 42 59 36 5 2 2 4 4
1972–73 Detroit Red Wings NHL 3 0 0 0 0          
1973–74 Virginia Wings AHL 65 24 42 66 37          
1973–74 Detroit Red Wings NHL 12 2 5 7 4          
1974–75 Tulsa Oilers CHL 11 6 10 16 14          
1974–75 Phoenix Roadrunners WHA 53 31 37 68 29 5 2 5 7 2
1975–76 Phoenix Roadrunners WHA 80 41 72 113 109 5 1 3 4 2
1976–77 Phoenix Roadrunners WHA 80 46 71 117 86          
1977–78 Cincinnati Stingers WHA 80 59 50 109 54          
1978–79 Cincinnati Stingers WHA 80 39 77 116 87 3 3 2 5 6
1979–80 Quebec Nordiques NHL 52 18 33 51 28          
1980–81 Quebec Nordiques NHL 78 24 49 73 104 5 1 2 3 17
1981–82 Quebec Nordiques NHL 19 1 8 9 4          
1981–82 New York Rangers NHL 30 8 24 32 24 10 7 4 11 11
1982–83 New York Rangers NHL 61 12 19 31 41 4 1 0 1 0
1983–84 Tulsa Oilers CHL 25 11 11 22 10 9 4 5 9 2
1983–84 New York Rangers NHL 31 3 2 5 22          
1984–85 New Haven Nighthawks AHL 17 9 7 16 30          
1984–85 New York Rangers NHL 48 9 10 19 35          
1985–86 New Haven Nighthawks AHL 1 0 0 0 0          
WHA Totals 373 216 307 523 365 13 6 10 16 10
NHL Totals 334 77 150 227 262 19 9 6 15 28

NHL Coaching career[edit]

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
G W L T OTL Pts Finish Result
Los Angeles Kings 1987–88 52 23 25 4 - (68) 4th in Smythe Lost in First round
Los Angeles Kings 1988–89 80 42 31 7 - 91 2nd in Smythe Lost in Second round
New Jersey Devils 1998–99 82 47 24 11 - 105 1st in Atlantic Lost in First round
New Jersey Devils 1999–2000 74 41 20 8 5 (103) 2nd in Atlantic (Fired)
Boston Bruins 2001–02 82 43 24 6 9 101 1st in Northeast Lost in First round
Boston Bruins 2002–03 73 33 28 8 4 (87) 3rd in Northeast (Fired)
NHL Totals 443 229 152 44 18

Minor League Coaching career[edit]

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
G W L T OTL Pts Finish Result
New Haven Nighthawks 1985–86 80 36 37 7 - 79 4th in South Lost in First round
New Haven Nighthawks 1986–87 80 44 25 - 11 99 3rd in South Lost in First round
New Haven Nighthawks 1987–88 27 16 8 3 - (76) 5th in North (Promoted)
Halifax Citadels 1989–90 48 25 19 4 - (80) 4th in North (Promoted)
Utica Devils 1992–93 80 33 36 11 - 77 3rd in South Lost in First round
Albany River Rats 1993–94 80 38 34 8 - 84 3rd in North Lost in First round
Albany River Rats 1994–95 80 46 17 17 - 109 1st in North Won Calder Cup
Albany River Rats 1995–96 80 54 19 7 - 115 1st in North Lost in First round
Albany River Rats 2003–04 28 7 15 3 3 (62) 7th in East Missed Playoffs
Albany River Rats 2004–05 80 29 38 6 7 71 7th in East Missed Playoffs
Albany River Rats 2005–06 80 25 48 - 7 57 7th in Atlantic Missed Playoffs
Erie Otters 2007–08 53 15 34 - 4 (40) 5th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
Erie Otters 2008–09 68 34 29 - 5 73 3rd in Midwest Lost in First round
Erie Otters 2009–10 68 33 28 - 7 73 4th in Midwest Lost in First round
Erie Otters 2010–11 68 40 26 - 2 82 3rd in Midwest Lost in First round
Erie Otters 2011–12 68 10 52 3 3 26 5th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
Erie Otters 2012–13 27 7 15 2 3 19 5th in Midwest (Fired)

Personal life[edit]

Ftorek and his wife Wendy have four children. His youngest 23-year-old daughter Anna Ftorek died suddenly of a heart attack at the family's home in Wolfeboro, NH in 2012.[11][12]

See also[edit]

List of NHL head coaches

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Marc Tardif
Quebec Nordiques captain
1981
Succeeded by
Andre Dupont
Preceded by
Rogie Vachon
Head coach of the Los Angeles Kings
1988–89
Succeeded by
Tom Webster
Preceded by
Jacques Lemaire
Head coach of the New Jersey Devils
1998–2000
Succeeded by
Larry Robinson
Preceded by
Mike Keenan
Head coach of the Boston Bruins
2001–03
Succeeded by
Mike O'Connell
Preceded by
Peter Sidorkiewicz
Head coach of the Erie Otters
2007–2012
Succeeded by
Kris Knoblauch