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Ftorek out as coach of Erie Otters @NHLdotcom

The Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League on Thursday relieved Robbie Ftorek of his duties as coach.

The Otters had lost fourth straight to slip to fifth place in the Midwest Division at 7-15-5.

Ftorek will be replaced by Kris Knoblauch, 34, former coach of the Kootenay Ice who led that team to the Western Hockey League title in 2011. Knoblauch will make his debut with the Otters on Friday at Sault Ste. Marie. Peter Sidorkiewicz will remain as an assistant coach.

The announcement was made by Otters managing partner and general manager Sherry Bassin. Ftorek, who was in his sixth season as Erie coach, led the Otters to their third-best win total in franchise history during the 2010-11 campaign (40-26-2).

"Robbie has a distinguished career in coaching and is one of the classiest people in the game," Bassin said in a statement. "He is a great mentor on and off the ice. I decided after considerable thought to make this difficult decision and to move in a different direction. The entire Otters family has the utmost respect for Robbie, Wendy and their family and expect that he will go on to bigger and better opportunities."

Ftorek, 60, finishes with a 139-184-24 career mark in Erie.

Prior to his coaching career, which began with the American Hockey League's New Haven Nighthawks in 1985, Ftorek spent nine seasons in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings, Quebec Nordiques and New York Rangers. He totaled 77 goals, 150 assists, 227 points and 262 penalty minutes in 334 games.

He was a member of the 1972 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team that won the silver medal. He was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.

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