Robbie Ftorek

Flames hire Ftorek as AHL assistant coach


Former NHL coach Robbie Ftorek has been hired by the Calgary Flames to serve as an assistant coach for the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat.

“In light of our commitment to rebuilding, and providing our young players with a chance to play, there is even greater importance being placed on development and getting our prospects ready to contribute as quickly as possible in Calgary,” said Flames general manager Jay Feaster in a release. “In support of that mission, we are thrilled to be able to add such an experienced coach and teacher as Robbie Ftorek to our organization. Robbie’s experience at every level of hockey, from the CHL to the AHL to the NHL, provides our players, and our coaching staffs, an incredible wealth of hockey knowledge on which to draw, and we believe he and Troy Ward will do a great job together in developing players for the Flames.”

Ftorek, 61, played 334 NHL games before he served as head coach for the Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins.

Among the players Ftorek coached in Los Angeles? One Wayne Gretzky.

But Ftorek didn’t last long in L.A. — the Kings fired Ftorek after just one full season behind the bench, and his relationship with the Great One, who had just been traded from Edmonton, was a big reason why.

From the L.A. Times (May 3, 1989):

On the night of Nov. 23, the Kings were beating the Red Wings and Gretzky was having what might have been a record night for points. When Gretzky felt that he had lapsed and contributed to a Detroit goal toward the end of the second period, he hit his stick on the back of the net in his anger at himself.

In the dressing room between the second and third periods, Ftorek announced that Gretzky would be benched at the start of the third period because Ftorek wanted to teach the team to be disciplined.

Gretzky fired back at Ftorek: “Robbie, if you want to teach, go back to New Haven. We’re here to win the Stanley Cup.”

Obviously, that was a long time ago. But it’s pretty slow, so there’s your hockey history lesson for the day, kids.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen

Coyotes place towering enforcer John Scott on waivers

John Scott, Brandon Davidson
The Canadian Press via AP

The Arizona Coyotes might not be using John Scott‘s services after all.

The team waived him this afternoon, per Craig Morgan. It’s possible that the Coyotes are simply giving themselves options as Scott clearing would allow them to send him down quickly at any point until he plays in 10 games or 30 days pass. At the same time, any team looking for a gritty fourth-line forward or third-pairing defenseman might be tempted to claim him in light of his affordable $575K cap hit for the 2015-16 campaign.

Scott is an imposing presence on the ice at 6-foot-8 and 260 pounds, but he doesn’t bring much to the table other than his physical play and willingness to drop the gloves. In terms of offensive abilities, he’s among the least capable in the league. In fact, the four points he recorded last season with the San Jose Sharks represented a career-high for the 33-year-old.

Meanwhile, Dan Cleary went unclaimed on waivers, according to Bob McKenzie, setting the stage for him to be reassigned to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.