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Former NHL and AHL coach Robbie Ftorek was unveiled as the new head coach of the Erie Otters this evening. He’s replacing Peter Sidorkiewicz as the new man behind the bench of the 3-12-0-0 Otters....
Had the opportunity to speak with Ftorek after the announcement and he said that both Sidorkiewicz and Mike Stapleton have agreed to stay on as members of his coaching staff.
The 55-year-old spoke with Sidorkiewicz just moments after the former NHL goaltender had been given the news of his replacement by management.
“I just tried to tell him that this is part of the game,” said Ftorek, who coached Sidorkiewicz in the AHL with Albany. “I said, ‘I would like you to stay on because you have a lot to offer; you know the team, you know the players, you know the league.’ He deserves to stay here, because these things happen, it’s not anyone’s fault.”
Keeping Sidorkiewicz – IMHO -- is a good move, if Sid’s going to be OK with that arrangement. I think the problem in Erie was that Sid was just as inexperienced as the players he was coaching and he had his hands full with that team from day one. Not the ideal time to be learning on the job. Sometimes a good person put in a bad situation can make a mess of things, despite their best intentions.
Ftorek was on the ice at practice today and met his team for the first time. He said he was pleased by what he saw – notably the fact that they were paying attention.
“I’m not here to gamble, I’m here to make this team better,” said Ftorek. “I’m here to make this team successful and hope they become professional players down the road, or have them learn some life lessons here along the way that can maybe help them.”
According to the new coach his biggest challenge will be getting to know the players, since he has no idea who they are or where their strengths and weaknesses lie. He’s also had very limited experience coaching junior aged players before -- mostly at hockey schools and at one of the USA Festivals for the Olympics. This is where having the support of Sidorkiewicz and Stapleton will come in handy.
Recently Ftorek’s name was mentioned as a possible candidate for the vacant Atlanta Thrashers job. Of course, like most coaches, the NHL is still the end goal for Ftorek who last coached in The Show during 2003 with the Boston Bruins.
When asked about the length of his contract, Ftorek's reply was: “I’m just here as the interim head coach.”
NOTE: Hey Otters fans, you might not want to get too attached.
Of course, I couldn’t let the interview go by without asking Ftorek about his famous hockey fashion statement – the sweater.
“Y’know I didn’t have a jacket when I was in L.A. (coaching the Kings) because I was always a sweater person in school. I asked (then Kings owner Bruce McNall) if he had a problem with that and he said, ‘no’. So I carried it on because I had more sweaters than anything else,” said Ftorek.
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