“Yeah, Robbie’s weathered the storm. It looks like we righted the ship a little bit. It’s constant evaluation: watching the team and seeing how it goes, but I think that he’s got the team in the right direction and I’m prepared to go with him for the rest of the year.”
Quick. Who said that?
Boston GM Mike O’Connell.
When did he say it?
March 13, 2003.
What did he do six days later?
He fired coach Robbie Ftorek. O’Connell will take over for the rest of the season. And the way Boston has been playing, it shouldn’t be long.
No one should be surprised Ftorek was fired. The Bruins started really strong and just got weaker and weaker as the season went on. When Boston couldn’t muster more than a goal against Phoenix, O’Connell had to know it was time for a coachectomy.
It was the good start that doomed Ftorek. No one could have possibly expected Boston to succeed with all the injuries that plagued the start of their season. They also had no goaltending. And they never replaced Bill Guerin. But Ftorek proved that despite all that, the Bruins could thrive. So when they started to fail, it looked that much worse, even though Boston should have failed in the first place.
Ftorek was fired for a brief, brief victory over his team’s destiny.
Also, probably, for weird moves like making defenseman Bryan Berard a forward. Berard left hockey for a year or so with a severe eye injury. But then he realized he wanted to keep playing. He spent a year with the Rangers, but they didn’t ask him back, so he went to Boston. The word on the street is that Berard’s vision isn’t 100% (he’s legally blind in one eye). And you kind of want your forwards to be able to see.
So even turning a half-blind defenseman into a forward wasn’t enough to save Ftorek’s job.