NJ Devils Hire Robbie FtorekDEEPTI HAJELA , Associated Press
May. 21, 1998 5:45 PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ Embarrassed in the playoffs the last two years, the New Jersey Devils will start over next season with Robbie Ftorek.
The New Jersey assistant was hired Thursday to succeed Jacques Lamaire, who quit after his team was ousted in the first round after finishing with the best record in the conference.
``There is no question in my mind that Robbie is the right man for this responsibility,'' Devils general manager Lou Lamorielo said.
Ftorek, 46, the team's top assistant, had been the front-runner for the job since Lemaire resigned May 8. Lamoriello offered him the position Wednesday night.
``I think right now a different voice will matter,'' Lamoriello said. ``I think that no matter who the coach is, no matter what sport it is today, after a period of time it's very difficult to keep the attention span you'd like to keep because some of the players are hearing the same thing and think it's redundant.''
Lamoriello would not comment on contract details. Oddly, Ftorek said even he didn't know what they were, trusting the organization to be fair.
``It's not that important to me, it never has been,'' he said. ``I've been with this program for seven years. I don't have to worry about that.''
Ftorek said he has not begun thinking about his staff, although the Devils said Jacques Caron will remain the goaltending coach.
New Jersey won the Stanley Cup in 1995, the second of Lemaire's five years with the team. But the Devils missed the playoffs the following year. In 1997, New Jersey lost in the second round to the New York Rangers.
Ftorek, one of the first good American players in the NHL, has had less than two seasons of NHL head coaching experience. He was behind the bench for the Los Angeles Kings in 1987-88 and 88-89, going 65-56-11 in 132 games.
He coached many of the Devils' players during his three seasons as coach at Albany of the AHL, New Jersey's top farm team. Ftorek was the AHL's coach of the year in 1995 and '96. He led Albany to the Calder Cup in 1995.
Ftorek says he probably will retain the Devils' trademark neutral zone trap.
``I believe in Jacques' system, I believe in it a lot,'' he said. ``But there are some small things that I believe in that will be a little different from Jacques' system.''
However, he does want to make the defensive zone more aggressive and get more production from the offense, particularly in the playoffs.
``That's something that has to be worked on,'' he said. ``You can't win unless you score goals, but if you give up goals, you'll never have the opportunity to win. Jacques and I both believe you play defense when you don't have the puck and offense when you do.''
Ftorek played for the 1972 U.S. Olympic team before embarking on a 13-year career in the now-defunct WHA and then in the NHL with Detroit, Quebec and the New York Rangers.
The Needham, Mass., native had 77 goals and 150 assists in the NHL. He was the MVP of the WHA in 1977 for the Phoenix Roadrunners and led the league in assists in 1978-79.