November 28, 2023
Flyers’ John Tortorella Should Contemplate Evolution of Trendy Athlete

John Tortorella has by no means wavered from his personal character. He brings unrelenting hearth, ardour, and (typically overly) brutal honesty behind the bench. The Philadelphia Flyers employed him to pressure gamers out of their consolation zones and breathe life again into a corporation that misplaced it someplace alongside the road. Joel Farabee and Travis Sanheim just lately joined Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny on the lengthy checklist of high-profile NHL gamers benched by Tortorella in 2022-23.

Tortorella has by no means been afraid to conflict along with his gamers. He even values sure direct confrontations as studying experiences. He famously quarreled with Vincent Lecavalier in 2002 simply two years earlier than they gained the Stanley Cup along with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nevertheless, Elliotte Friedman cited a supply that introduced up a level the Flyers should take into account in Tortorella’s long-term future regarding the altering perspective of the trendy athlete. 

“Children are completely different now. What Vincent Lecavalier would’ve accepted 20 years in the past, he’s not satisfied that a few of these younger gamers will cope with now,” Friedman stated.

John Tortorella Inflicting Controversy

The group signed up for controversy, and so they’ve gotten greater than their fair proportion. Tortorella has challenged his gamers with out a lot hesitation or consideration for incomes acceptance from the media or pockets of the fan base. Many individuals criticized his option to scratch Sanheim with household and associates in attendance in opposition to the Calgary Flames on Feb. 20. The 2-time Jack Adams winner claimed he wasn’t conscious of Sanheim’s expertise enjoying junior hockey in Calgary and the preplanned household journey.

Hayes took a seat as a wholesome scratch in December in opposition to the New York Rangers, the staff he performed for throughout his first 5 NHL seasons, in a scenario that drew probably the most consideration across the NHL. He led the Flyers in scoring on the time, however Tortorella had challenged the 30-year-old ahead’s defensive sport repeatedly all through the early a part of the season. He even moved Hayes to the wing regardless of his intensive expertise as a middle in over eight NHL seasons.

John Tortorella Philadelphia Flyers
Philadelphia Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“It’s form of an enormous image in my thoughts, so far as staff idea,” Tortorella stated about his choice to sit down Hayes. “ I’ll put it to you this fashion. I can’t hold wanting by issues as a result of we’re frightened about scoring. I’ve acquired to fret concerning the large image of what this staff goes to be, what the usual is of how we’ve to play. That far outweighs dropping some offense in a selected sport.”

Tortorella and the group emphasised a brand new customary throughout the offseason for gamers to method to the sport off the ice and carry out on it. A part of that new customary is holding the highest gamers on the staff accountable in all elements of the sport. Hayes hasn’t been a robust defensive participant this season, and he paid the worth by sitting as a wholesome scratch.


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“I’m by no means going to say there’s a profit to being benched. I’m sorry,” Hayes stated. “I don’t assume I ought to have been benched, nevertheless it’s not my choice. He’s the coach. I’m a participant. He makes the lineup. He desires the very best staff on the ice to finally win.”

Farabee and Sanheim haven’t responded properly to the problem with enchancment on the ice. Tortorella as soon as once more sat each former first-round draft picks for your entire second interval in Tampa Bay on March 7. After the sport, Tortorella appeared confused concerning the choice to sit down them initially and the choice to present them one other shot within the third interval.

“I don’t know the place I am going there,” he stated with a tone of frustration.

Different Flyers Benched

“It didn’t matter in the event you have been a first-line man or a fourth-line man, he’d problem guys and verbally give it to them if he didn’t assume they weren’t giving it their all,” Chris Dingman instructed NBC Sports activities Philadelphia stated about his time with Tortorella as a member of the Lightning.

Tortorella hasn’t been choosy concerning the gamers he’s difficult. Some gamers have responded properly and proven the enhancements their head coach is in search of. Tortorella sat Hayes and Konecny for the third interval in opposition to the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 23 simply six video games into the common season. Whereas Hayes has remained within the doghouse for a lot of the season, Konecny took one other path. He led the staff in scoring earlier than his latest damage, and he has persistently earned reward from the pinnacle coach for his hard-nosed perspective on the ice.

Kevin Hayes Philadelphia Flyers
Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Rasmus Ristolainen performed a grand whole of 4 video games in 2022-23 on his new five-year, $25.5 million contract earlier than he discovered himself out of the lineup. Nevertheless, because the benching, the bruising defenseman has progressed right into a extra dependable function on the Philadelphia blue line and posted a few of the greatest defensive metrics of his 10-year NHL profession. 

Cam York started the season within the American Hockey League (AHL) after struggling throughout the preseason. Controversy swirled, however Tortorella had no intention of granting any sense of entitlement to a high prospect and former first-round draft decide. Since York lastly made it again to the NHL in December, he has proven progress as the most effective defensemen on a roster of high-priced veteran blueliners and a capability to play stretches on the highest pair for the Flyers.

Tortorella sat York as a wholesome scratch on Feb. 25 due to a latest dip in his play. The top coach’s perspective concerning the choice means that he considers the occasion one thing that he and York will transfer previous shortly. Whereas these kinds of choices aren’t all that frequent across the NHL, Tortorella is just not making them for any kind of shock issue from the surface or to create a totalitarian energy dynamic between him and his gamers.

Tortorella’s Emotional Intelligence

“I believe all of us (coaches) have developed, and personalities are completely different with gamers. It’s form of a mixture of doing it collectively. I believe that’s actually vital, particularly coping with a younger staff,” Tortorella stated earlier than the loss to the Lightning. “It’s not about what I wish to do. It’s what I believe is greatest for the staff or for that participant for the staff. That’s the place you’ve acquired to be actually cautious typically, and I’ve made errors all via my profession that means.”

He has spoken with a way of self-awareness at a number of factors in his tenure starting along with his introductory press convention in June 2022. A societal shift has taken place since Tortorella first stepped behind an NHL bench in 2000. Figures of authority don’t have the identical kind of unquestioned energy and affect as they did in numerous generations, and NHL coaches aren’t any exception.

“I do assume the younger athlete, it’s a unique athlete proper now. That’s an enormous a part of a coach’s duty is to work with the completely different athletes as you undergo. So long as I’ve been within the league, I’ve seen you go up and down completely different avenues of what the completely different athletes are,” Tortorella stated when he was launched to the Philadelphia media.

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A wily veteran may be very completely different from an antiquated holdover from a previous period. Regardless of a seemingly fixed emphasis on blocking pictures and turning into tougher to play in opposition to, Tortorella appears to at the very least perceive that idea in idea. Nevertheless, he nonetheless intends to set the best customary that forces gamers to succeed in their ceiling with out crossing the road between robust and loopy.

“This isn’t intramural hockey. That is the Nationwide Hockey League, and these aren’t private choices to have an effect on him that means,” Tortorella stated about Sanheim after the choice to sit down him in Calgary. “If that’s going to harm emotions, then we’re actually down the flawed street with the participant.”  

He won’t ever coddle gamers as a result of it might be a whole divergence from what made him a profitable coach to start with. Nevertheless, the place will he draw the high quality line?

Flyers’ New Normal

The brand new customary is about in Philadelphia. If some gamers aren’t in a position to deal with it, they in all probability gained’t be with the group for very lengthy, for higher or for worse. The Flyers have been properly conscious of that actuality after they picked Tortorella to grow to be their new head coach. 

Whereas the fiery, old-school model has helped Tortorella’s groups to success in previous stops, the long-term venture in Philadelphia hasn’t totally gotten off the bottom but. The Flyers enter the ultimate stretch of the 2022-23 season out of playoff competition, and basic supervisor (GM) Chuck Fletcher’s lack of exercise on the 2023 NHL Commerce Deadline actually did assist the staff acquire any momentum with their hopes for long-term competition.

Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher
Philadelphia Flyers Common Supervisor Chuck Fletcher (Jose F. Morena/The Philadelphia Inquirer through AP)

The Flyers have reached a unstable place. They’ve pushed their very own fan base to a brand new stage of venom for the repeated failure of the group. They don’t have sufficient franchise constructing blocks on the NHL stage to persuade anybody their short-term future is brilliant. Their prospect pipeline isn’t among the many league’s greatest, and their cap scenario will proceed to handcuff the entrance workplace. Rumblings a few disconnect between Fletcher and Tortorella have surfaced.

Is probably the most unstable head coach within the NHL going to outlive a messy scenario just like the one in Philadelphia? Tortorella’s proponents level to his success over lengthy tenures with the Lightning, the Rangers, and the Columbus Blue Jackets because the highlights of a resume for a coach who can construct a franchise slowly however certainly. Nevertheless, his nightmare one-year tenure with the Vancouver Canucks supplies a opposite instance of how his fierce model can burn out shortly.

Philadelphia has a coach with an extremely polarizing character for a franchise in full disarray in a significant media market with athletes of the brand new age that don’t all the time reply properly to strict requirements they don’t agree with. If John Tortorella someway survives these challenges and helps the Flyers return to Stanley Cup competition in opposition to all odds, he deserves an entire lot extra reward than simply an induction into the Hockey Corridor of Fame.