John Tortorella will be named the 23rd coach in the Philadelphia Flyers history.
General manager Chuck Fletcher will make it official Friday, when I’m sure he will be asked about a report suggesting he was against hiring Tortorella but was overruled by an outside search agency.
On Wednesday, Fletcher told me the report was “BS.” He wouldn’t elaborate, but said he would when the coach was officially named.
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Tortorella, a Boston native, is the second-winningest American-born coach in NHL history, slightly behind former Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. He will be trying to turn around a Flyers team that missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1992-93 and 1993-94.
Let’s look at the pluses and minuses of the hire:
5 reasons why he will be a great fit
- Tortorella has been a head coach for 19 years and has a presence that will enable him to command a room. There will be no country-club atmosphere.
- The Flyers need someone who isn’t afraid to call out players or bench them — even if it’s a high-priced star. Torts fits that description. A two-time Coach of the Year winner, he brings accountability and discipline to teams.
- In their history, the Flyers have twice hired a head coach who directed a previous team to a Stanley Cup — Ken Hitchcock and Laviolette. They both did very well here. That ring gives Tortorella extra credibility with his players. He coached Tampa to the Cup in 2004.
- The year away from coaching — Torts has been an analyst for ESPN this season — should energize Tortorella, and maybe, just maybe, has given him a chance to make observations that will make him an even better bench boss.
- The fact that Cam Atkinson, the highly respected right winger who was the Flyers’ MVP last season, has played for Tortorella and thrived under him — and still praises his former coach to this day — should make it easier for the players to buy into his system.
So there’s hope? https://t.co/izPY6hcGqN
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) June 16, 2022
5 reasons why he won’t work
- The Flyers have recently been down this road before as far as hiring a veteran coach with a strong resume. They hired Alain Vigneault before the 2019-20 season and he only lasted a little over two years. The Flyers seemingly tuned him out, and there’s a danger of that happening with Torts after the honeymoon period ends.
- With Torts, the Flyers are getting a coach who hasn’t done much since winning a Cup in 2004. They will have passed on a younger person who has never been a head coach — such as Tampa Bay’s highly respected assistant, Derek Lalonde — and is hungry to make a name for himself.
- Tortorella’s abrasive, old-school style could rub some players the wrong way.
- Aside from winning a Cup, Torts’ teams have not had many long playoff runs. Eight of his 20 teams missed the playoffs; six of his teams had first-round exits. That means 14 of his teams didn’t win a playoff series. The Flyers have won one playoff series in the last 10 years.
- Fair or not, fans will always compare his performance to Barry Trotz’s new team (Winnipeg?). Trotz was reportedly the Philadelphia Flyers’ first choice. That’s a lot of weight on Torts’ shoulders because Trotz is a defensive genius.