Thread: MLD 2011 Bios
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07-16-2011, 06:33 PM
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C/LW Robbie Ftorek

1x WHA MVP(1976-77)
2x WHA 1st-Team All Star
2x WHA 2nd-Team All Star
4x Top 7 Points WHA(2, 4, 5, 7)
3x Top 8 Goals WHA(3, 7, 8)
3x Top 5 Assists WHA(1, 4, 5)
5th all-time PPG in WHA
3rd all-time APG in WHA
6th all-time GPG in WHA
US Hockey Hall of Fame Member
6th in Selke voting, 1981

Magical is a good word to describe the highly skilled Ftorek. With his hockey stick as his wand, Ftorek carved out a reputation as an electrifying skater, a wonderful puck carrier, and an absolute wizard of a playmaker. He could also almost score at will, although he loved to set up a teammate for a picture-perfect goal even more so.

Ftorek went on to play hockey at higher levels once he graduated from high school. He spent a year playing Canadian junior hockey in Halifax, he joining the US national team. With the Nats Ftorek competed in the World Championships where he was an All Star scoring 7 goals and 10 points in 6 games. More importantly, Ftorek also got a chance to play with the 1972 US Olympic team. He chipped in 2 assists in 6 games, helping the Americans win a silver medal in Sapporo, Japan.

After the Olympics, he signed with the Detroit organization and played for Virginia of the AHL. He played two strong seasons with the Va. Wings, averaging a point a game. He also got a couple of brief callups to the NHL. He played in 15 NHL games over those two seasons, and scored 2 goals and 5 assists.

He jumped to the Phoenix Roadrunners of the fledgling World Hockey Association in 1974. It was a great career move for Ftorek. He had no idea just how much success he'd achieve with the upstart league, but he got a big pay raise from his minor league salary and got to play with some much more talented players.

Robbie achieved some dizzying numbers in the WHA. In total he scored 216 goals and 307 assists for 523 points in just 373 games. He spent the first three years in the WHA with the Roadrunners, scoring 68, 113 and a career-high 117 points respectively. The Roadrunners folded in 1976 and Ftorek move on to Cincinnati where he continued to light up the scoreboard. In 1977-78 he scored a career high 59 goals along with 50 assists for 109 points. He followed that up with his best season in the WHA. He scored 116 points, just one shy of his personal best, but more importantly was named the league MVP.

In 1979, the NHL absorbed the WHA, and Ftorek became a Quebec Nordique. He played two years in Quebec City, serving as team captain. However he never was able to come close to his dominating self in the NHL. He had one good NHL season, his second with the Nords when he scored 24 goals and 73 points, but otherwise was shutdown. He had some injury problems and was getting on in age by the time he finally stuck in the NHL, but it just goes to show you the difference in quality between the two leagues.

Robbie finished his playing career as a part time player with the New York Rangers, occasionally seeing time in the minor leagues. He finished his career with 77 goals, 150 assists and 227 points in 334 NHL games.

A great student of the game, Ftorek was a popular television commentator in his post-playing days. However he was better known as a coach in the minors and the NHL. He was the coach in Los Angeles when Wayne Gretzky first arrived. He later went on to coach the New Jersey Devils and, his career coming full circle, the Boston Bruins.

Robbie Ftorek was a skilled forward who made his presence felt in the NHL, WHA, and internationally. Although he was only 155 lbs., the crafty forward was lightning quick and able to avoid many hits during his career. He entered the 2001-02 season as the new head coach of the Boston Bruins.

The native of Needham, Massachusetts, spent a year with the Halifax Junior Canadians of the Nova Scotia junior league before signing up with the U.S. national team. In 1972 he represented his country when they won a silver medal at the Sapporo Olympics. A few weeks later he competed at the World Championships "B" Pool and was selected to the tournament all-star team.

The talented forward was signed by the Detroit Red Wings and played a handful of games in 1972-73 and 1973-74. He spent most of his first two pro seasons with the AHL's Virginia Wings. Always a bit of a free spirit, Ftorek decided to pursue his pro dreams in the World Hockey Association. He was an offensive force for three years on the Phoenix Roadrunners then two seasons with the Cincinnati Stingers. Along the way Ftorek won the Gary Davidson trophy as the league's most valuable player in 1977 and was selected to the league's first and second all-star teams twice each. He also scored five points in five games for the USA at the inaugural Canada Cup in 1976.

Ftorek signed with the Quebec Nordiques as they were about to join the NHL in 1979-80. He was a solid offensive performer for two seasons in La Belle Province then suited up for the U.S. at the 1981 Canada Cup. After a slow start in 1980-81, Ftorek was traded to the New York Rangers and scored 32 points in 30 games then helped the Rangers reach the second round of the playoffs. The tricky forward was a major asset when the Blueshirts extended the Stanley Cup champion Islanders to six games in the quarterfinals. Ftorek remained a solid role player in New York until the end of the 1984-85 season.

Ftorek A Diamond In The Rough

He may have only been 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds, but Robbie Ftorek was one of the hardest working players in the game. And what he lacked in size he made up for with his feisty playing style and fierce competitive nature.

Discovered during an Olympic tryout, Ftorek began his career playing for Team USA at the 1972 Olympic Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan where he helped win the silver medal, the first medal of any kind a U.S. hockey team had won in 12 years.

Four years later, he joined Rick Chartraw and company on Team USA’s inaugural Canada Cup roster, where he led the team with five points.

From the days when he sneaked into the Boston Garden under his father's coat to the days when he filled that building as a 16-year-old high school player, from the Sapporo Olympics to the Detroit Red Wings and now, finally, to the Phoenix Roadrunners, he has always been known as Little Robbie Ftorek. They call him the " Bobby Clarke of the World Hockey Association," and he has scored more points (113) in a major league season than any other American-born player, but his biography starts with 5'9" and 160 pounds. Depending on what he ate last, Ftorek (pronounced Fatorek) claims he weighs somewhere between 148 and 152 pounds. Even at his heaviest, Ftorek still is the lightest player in big-league hockey.

"The first time I was on the ice as a pro, this 6'4", 225-pound guy named Rick Foley came charging at me from halfway across the rink, and I thought I was going to have a one-shift career," Ftorek says. "But I surprised myself. I got out of the way at the last second, and he ended up hurting himself. So here I am today." Here he is today, age 24, leader of the financially crippled Roadrunners, the MVP of Team USA in the recent Canada Cup series and a WHA All-Star. What seems to please Ftorek most, though, is the fact that he is one of only six players—Canadian, American, whatever—to amass 100 points and 100 penalty minutes in the same season.

So he went to Halifax, Nova Scotia and played junior hockey and later made the 1972 U.S. Olympic team. Detroit signed him after Sapporo, but with the exception of 15 games with the Red Wings, he spent the next two seasons playing for their Virginia farm club. Seeing Detroit as a dead end, Ftorek jumped to Phoenix and the WHA. "What no one ever measured in Ftorek," says the Phoenix coach, Al Rollins, "was what he does with quickness. And he probably has the most intense dedication of anybody in hockey today."

Ftorek has had 72 goals and 109 assists in his two Phoenix seasons, and now Rollins fully appreciates this kid who could qualify for a Boys' Life centerfold. "I'd better," says Rollins, "because he's my meal ticket." So, worried that Ftorek's 150 pounds will burn out by April, Rollins regularly bars him from off-day practices. "He's the first one on the ice every day—and the last to leave," says Rollins. "He thinks a practice should be approached like a playoff game."

Ftorek is an ascetic; he drinks nothing stronger than Coke—not even coffee—and he will not allow his wife to come to training camp. Last year John Gray, Ftorek's roommate, woke up at 3:30 a.m. and found Ftorek studiously working on a list of things he wanted to accomplish during that day's practice. Gray screamed that he had had enough, and when Ftorek returned from breakfast, his bags were in the hotel hallway.

Like Philadelphia's Clarke, Ftorek is a tireless forechecker at one end and back-checker at the other, one of those players who always appear to be chasing—or being chased by—the puck. A deft play-maker, he centers the "Lightning Line" for xxx and xxx, and last season they combined for 123 goals.

Ftorek is among the WHA's top 10 scorers this season, with 11 goals and five assists for 16 points, and he has the Roadrunners in second place in the Western Division. In a recent game against Bobby Hull's Winnipeg Jets, the defending WHA champion, he scored the winning goal in Phoenix' 4-3 victory as he beat Joe Daley with less than five minutes to play. Then Ftorek helped preserve the lead in the final minute with some superior penalty killing.

The little guy is the unquestioned leader of the Roadrunners. One time last season he was so upset by the home crowd's booing of a teammate that he invited himself onto the postgame radio show and defended his teammate. He also is the prosecuting attorney/judge of the club's kangaroo court. "See this?" Ftorek says, pulling out a little notebook. "All the fines. For anything—missing a bus, leaving stuff in the locker room for the trainer to pick up. We raise a lot of money." Instead of squandering the money for team parties, Ftorek sends flowers to fans' weddings or funerals. On one occasion he paid the team's laundry bill during a preseason tour of Finland. At Ftorek's prodding, the Phoenix players also have chipped in to buy season tickets that they donate to local charities. All this has helped keep the struggling Phoenix franchise financially afloat, but the club may soon wind up at Household Finance.

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

The Birmingham Bulls were playing the Cincinnati Stingers, who had a great player, an American named Robbie Ftorek. This guy went on to play in the NHL, and coached for the New York Rangers; he's a Hall of Famer.

He was skating around, this little guy with ragamuffin pants and hair sticking out of his helmet. He was a little bit of a loner. Very intense. A very, very intense kid. He was young at the time. Stubborn as hell, but he gave 100% all the time.

"I ended up playing with Robbie Ftorek," said xxx. "He was a marvelous hockey player."

Ftorek became one of the quiet leaders of the team through his pure joy in playing.

One of the things that separated Ftorek and his linemates-and made them valuable to an always-tinkering coach-was their ability to skate. The 3 forwards were interchangeable on the ice, crisscrossing, darting in and out while holding onto the puck-a distinctly different style of play than the "dump and chase" hockey they grew up playing. Ftorek and xxx especially thrived in this type of play during the pre-Olympic schedule.

As they got closer to the Olympic games, Coach Williamson asked Ftorek, xxx, and xxx to become the team's checking line, which meant they would play against the other team's top lines with the job of keeping them off the score sheet.

"He told us he wanted us to be a checking line and play against the best lines on the other teams. It was fun and a responsibility in which we took a lot of pride...Ftorek, xxx, and xxx went on to register 3 goals and 4 assists during the Olympic tournament while facing off against some of the greatest players of their time and in the tournament-including Russia's Kharlamov, Czechoslovakia's superstar Nedomansky, and Sweden's xxx.

Robbie Ftorek was probably the closest guy to a Russian that we've ever had because of his soccer ability with his feet. He was deceptively quick. He wasn't fast, but he really played with his head up all the time and had tremendous hand-eye coordination.

"Ftorek and xxx are on my checking line. They always play the other teams' big line"

Just 1:38 later, Ruotsalainen sneaked behind the Los Angeles defense, took a perfect pass from Robbie Ftorek, and beat xxx on a breakaway. "I was just hoping on Robbie's pass. It was perfect and dropped right to me. I just had to put my stick on the ice.

Last edited by BillyShoe1721: 07-23-2011 at 07:36 PM.
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