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.
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.”
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) May 3, 2022
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.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) May 2, 2022
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.