I know that he and Gretzky butted heads almost from the get go...when Gretzky was first dealt to LA, people were already speculating how long Ftorek would last.
And this blurb had a lot to do with the speculation (I remember the New Haven crack quite well):
Ftorek was fired after his first full year as coach because he did not have the support of the players.
Wayne Gretzky was at odds with Ftorek this season, and many of the other Kings were frustrated with him at one time or another, voicing their feelings at their end-of-the-season meetings with Vachon.
Gretzky, though, has been at the center of the criticism of Ftorek. Ftorek was not fired because of one confrontation with Gretzky in Detroit last November, but he was fired for reasons that are demonstrated by that confrontation.
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."
I think a lot of Ftorek's problem was that he was much more suited to work with works-in-progress who he could teach and mold. It seems like he took the same approach with NHL veterans, which seemed to chafe a lot of them.
Edited by Colorado Rockies 1976, 02 April 2014 - 01:55 PM.