Most minor league coaches would jump at a National Hockey League job. When the NHL post involves the defenseless Los Angeles Kings and the worst travel schedule in professional sports, however, there is good reason to hesitate.

So Robbie Ftorek, the designated replacement for the fired Mike Murphy, met with General Manager Rogie Vachon in Washington Saturday and then went back to New Haven to talk it over with his wife before deciding to accept the job. He officially was named to the post Wednesday.

Ftorek, 35, was a member of the 1972 U.S. Olympic team and has acquired a reputation of being his own man. He has long wanted to be an NHL coach and was upset when he was not interviewed for the New York Rangers' post before Michel Bergeron was hired. But he could hardly be blamed for looking at all angles of the Los Angeles situation.

The Kings have permitted more than five goals per game this season, a rate that would yield 409 over the full season. Only two teams have given up more, the 1974-75 Washington Capitals (446) and the 1986-87 Detroit Red Wings (415).

Vachon, a former goaltender, has absolved the Kings' goalies of blame for the defensive disaster. A close observer of the Kings goes farther: "If Georges Vezina had played goal for this team, they never would have named a trophy after him."

Murphy was the second coach fired last weekend, with Ron Lapointe replacing Andre Savard in Quebec Friday. Savard was bounced after just 24 games and the man he succeeded, Bergeron, said, "They didn't give him a fair chance."

The next coach who might be at risk is Bob Murdoch of the Chicago Blackhawks. Despite an 8-1-1 record at home, the Black Hawks are winless in their last 14 road games, indicating things haven't changed much since Orval Tessier cited the need for 20 "heart transplants" when he coached the club back in 1984.

Friday's 12-0 loss in Detroit was the ultimate embarrassment of an 0-6 road trip in which the Hawks were outscored, 38-11, and outshot by an average of 43-25. Devils Are Defending

A year ago, the New Jersey Devils allowed 4.60 goals per game, worst in the NHL. The figure this season is only a little above 3.00, which explains the Devils' fast start. Since Alain Chevrier is still the No. 1 man in the net, it is obviously the team that has changed . . . Steve Kasper, a onetime Selke Trophy winner as the NHL's best defensive player, continues to lead the Boston Bruins in scoring with 32 points. Linemate Randy Burridge said, "The way he's playing, the next time we play Edmonton, {Wayne} Gretzky will be checking him". . . In the Soviet Union, coaches need not wait for the morning paper to be second-guessed. To stimulate interest in a league dominated by the Central Red Army, coaches are required to sit at center ice after games and answer questions submitted by fans . . .

Washington's Rod Langway is by no means the only NHL player beset by back problems. Others include Mike Bossy of the Islanders, Pierre Larouche and Tomas Sandstrom of the Rangers, Wendel Clark of Toronto, Phil Housley of Buffalo, Greg Paslawski of St. Louis, Paul Reinhart of Calgary, Norm Schmidt of Pittsburgh and Derrick Smith of Philadelphia . . . Ron Greschner turned in his captain's "C" for the Rangers, saying, "I feel the younger players need a bigger voice around here." No replacement has been named; meanwhile, James Patrick, Kelly Kisio and David Shaw are serving as alternate captains . . . Gretzky's five-goal performance against Minnesota Sunday was the fourth of his career. The only other active player with more than one five-goal game is the Islanders' Bryan Trottier, who has done it twice. The hat trick was Gretzky's 43rd . . .

With the season more than one-third over, goalie Grant Fuhr has started all of Edmonton's games. Over the last 15 years, the high for a goaltender was Bernie Parent's 73 appearances for Philadelphia in 1973-74.