If he accepts the offer, fiery John Tortorella will try to wake up the slumbering Philadelphia Flyers.
The Flyers have offered the head-coaching job to Tortorella, according to Kevin Weekes, an analyst with ESPN, the NHL Network and TSN. Tortorella and Weekes work together at ESPN, so one would think Torts spilled the beans to his colleague.
Tortorella will meet with GM Chuck Fletcher on Thursday to discuss his contract, per Pierre LeBrun.
Tortorella, a Boston native who turns 64 later this month, has been a head coach with Tampa Bay, the New York Rangers, Vancouver, and Columbus. He won the Stanley Cup with Tampa in 2003-04 and has compiled a career record of 673-541-37-132 (.548 points percentage) in 20 seasons.
Alain Vigneault, fired as the Flyers coach early last season, has a .585 points percentage in 19 years, including parts of three campaigns in Philadelphia. That suggests it’s the talent level, not the coach, that has been the Flyers’ problem.
Tortorella’s last coaching season was 2020-21, when he directed Columbus to an 18-26-12 record. The Blue Jackets did not make the playoffs that season. Twelve of Tortorella’s 20 teams made the playoffs. Six of his teams were eliminated in the first round.
The Flyers. coming off the second-worst season in franchise history, have won just one playoff series in the last decade.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) June 15, 2022
If Tortorella takes the job, he will hope to have a healthy Sean Couturier and Ryan Ellis. Both missed most of last season, when the Philadelphia Flyers went 25-46-11 and finished last in the eight-team Metropolitan Division. The Flyers had a minus-87 goal differential.
Cam Atkinson, the right winger who was the Flyers’ MVP last season, played for Torts in Columbus. In his season-ending exit interview this year, Atkinson brought up Tortorella when he answered a question, and said the Flyers need more “F you” in 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: “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.