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Would John Tortorella be the answer to mold ‘soft’ Flyers, and give more ‘F you’ to their game?

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Cam Atkinson, Philadelphia Flyers
Right winger Cam Atkinson, who was the Philadelphia Flyers' MVP this season, says the team was too timid.

Maybe right winger Cam Atkinson wasn’t indirectly campaigning for John Tortorella to coach the Philadelphia Flyers next season.

Maybe he was.

Or maybe it was just an innocent throwaway line to a question during exit interviews with the media Saturday.

Atkinson brought up his former Columbus Blue Jackets coach when he answered a question and said the Flyers need more “F you” to their game.

The question:  A few of the guys have spoken with a positive sentiment about not finger-pointing. If you are able to keep that attitude, what ways do you think that would help you have a better season next year?

“That’s a good question,” Atkinson replied. “It was a crazy year where we played so many games and I didn’t feel like we had that many practices, especially with Olympics. Whether Olympics were going to happen, that’s why we had so many games in such a short period of time.”

Atkinson said “it all starts with practice. You practice how you play, especially when I turned pro. I learned that from John Tortorella. He was great in that aspect. There just wasn’t a lot of practice times” this season due to a somewhat-compressed schedule.

Timid team

Added Atkinson, who was named the Flyers’ MVP this season: “It was hard to mold and gel as a group when you’re playing so many games (and not practicing much) … You can’t really get on the ice and do it .  I think going into next year, we need to find a way to have some more grit, some more jam, more ‘F you” to our game, on both sides of the puck, in our crease, defending our goalie and in their crease. I thought we were a pretty soft team this year in my opinion.”

They probably wouldn’t be a soft team under an intense, demanding guy like Tortorella, 63.

Scott Laughton was asked if he believed the Flyers, who were ravaged by injuries this season, could turn around things quickly.

“I  think so,” Laughton said. “Speaking to Chuck (Fletcher, the general manager) and different people, I think you have to believe in what we have. I don’t want to go back to injuries and things like that, but you lose your top two centers, your number one D-man, it’s tough to get back from that.”

He was referring to centers Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes, and defenseman Ryan Ellis. All missed significant time, and Ellis played just four games.

“Touching back on that, we never really played the right way, so it wouldn’t have mattered I don’t think,” Laughton said. “We just have to get back to playing the right way. We have good pieces, good players, guys that can play, and a really good goalie, so I’m looking forward to decompressing here and letting this year go. It’s tough when you care so much.”

Ex-Flyers honored

Former Philadelphia Flyers Mark Howe, Bill Barber, and Joe and Jimmy Watson were honored at Monday’s Philadelphia Sports Writers Association’s banquet, which saluted legends in different sports.

Zack Hill, the Flyers’ public-relations director, was honored with the association’s Good Guy Award for his numerous contributions.

Fletcher will hold his season-ending news conference Tuesday at the Flyers’ Voorhees practice facility at 11 a.m. He is expected to give an update on the coach search.

Interim coach Mike Yeo, who was dealt a nearly impossible hand, will not be back as the head coach. 

PHN: Flyers’ new coach should be … 

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Dean S

Sam, so glad you are writing this column. I miss your articles in the Inquirer.

JEFFERY SAVAGE

Sam, don’t know much about Tortorella except that he must be Italian like me. Cam A. pegged it so right when he said the Flyers were soft this season. Going to be VERY INTERESTING on what Fletcher has to say, Hoping the Rick Tocchet is named the next coach. I think that he and Danny B. being former Flyers are just what the team needs along with the G. man but, not in the role of Captain, but as a mentor and teacher to the younger players. If the three of them could work together with Cam A. and Sean C. providing his backbones are healthy after the surgery that he had this season and let’s not forget to add Ras. R. to the mix. He is beginning to grow on me, and reminds me of the old tough bulldog named Spike in the old cartoons. Oh, and before I forget Fletcher needs to go, now that he and the other management have relieved Mike Yeo of the coaching dures. I do hope that Mike can stay on as an assistant though. He was put in an impossible situation. J.S. Denver, CO

SpectrumSection51

“I thought we were a pretty soft team this year in my opinion.” This quote from Cam Atkinson speaks volumes about the team and it has been evident not just this season but prior to that as well. This must change or there will be little improvement going forward, regardless of what new players they may acquire. As Atkinson alluded to, it will be up to the new coach to instill this sort of attitude. For years, the Flyers have tuned out coaches after a while – Laviolette, Hakstoll, Vigneault – who tried to foster the kind of mental and physical toughness that is missing. The next coach must be someone who will not allow this to occur and he must have the support of the GM in that regard so that the revolving door of coaches comes to an end.

Among the more prominent coaches available, I would not mind Tortorella. Babcock may be too volatile. I like the idea of Quennville as well, but the corporate entity that packed away the Kate Smith statue likely will fear the negative publicity that would come from the recent issue Quennville was involved with. I believe strongly that they must go outside the organization. Hiring someone like Tocchet will not move the organizational mindset forward to how the game is played today. Someone who understands the present game is essential.

Krug

Flyers’ new coach should be … anyone who is not an ex-Flyer. If they hire Rick Tocchet, it’s the ‘easy way out’. There are enough ex-Flyers already running the team into the ground…we don’t need anymore. Forget Tortorella… his act will wear out real quick.

Diesel

Tortz is the guy!

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