For new Philadelphia Flyers coach John Tortorella, it has been a whirlwind since he was hired June 17.
Since then, he has talked with several of his players to “get to know them better and put a face to a name.” He has done numerous public-relations duties, met with the Flyers’ management team, and helped rehire some coaching assistants. The man known as “Torts” has even assisted the Ed Snider Youth Hockey and Education program at a high school graduation celebration.
Now he’s trying to find a home for him, his wife, Christine, and their four dogs (pit bull mixes that were rescued) and three horses.
He said he loves Philadelphia and the blue-collar work ethic of the people who call it home, but “I’m probably going to live in Jersey because I have a bunch of animals and I think I need to find some property.”
Tortorella, 64, the second-winningest American-born coach in NHL history, has been searching the Shamong-Medford-Tabernacle area in South Jersey for a ranch/farm.
“I want to live in horse country,” he said Thursday. “I’m not going to go into a Haddonfield and be able to do it there.”
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He said he and his wife and their (now-adult) two children have “always lived about a half hour outside” the city where he has coached “because of all the animals we have. We’re like a traveling circus. We’re respectful to the people, too. We don’t want to plow in there with a bunch of animals. We’re pretty private people. We try to keep to our business and take care of our animals.”
He has an affinity for pit bulls.
“We rescue pitties — pit bulls are stuck in shelters,” he said. “I know they have kind of a (bad) connotation for what kind of animal they are. We kind of focus on those type of dogs because they’re stuck in shelters all over the world. They’re such great animals. We as people screw things up.”
Added Tortorella: “That’s why we try to stay to ourselves because sometimes people get frightened by that type of animal, and we don’t want to do that.”
Tortorella, who has quickly become the new face of the Flyers, said his wife plans to divide time between their new home and their other one in New York, which is close to their daughter and four-month-old grandson.
He is also in the process of hiring someone to help with the animals during the season “because I’m going to be too busy. It’s been a little bit of a whirlwind trying to get things organized; it always is when you go to a different team, but it’s exciting, too.”
Tortorella has said he sometimes wonders what is more important to him and his family — hockey or animals. He and his wife started the John and Christine Tortorella Family Foundation for Giving Back, whose mission is to help improve the lives of children and animals and protect the environment. The foundation promotes animal rights and has found homes for several rescue and foster dogs.
Fiery and combative behind the bench (and sometimes during news conferences), Tortorella also has a soft side. That explains why he is trying to find the right South Jersey home for his beloved animals.
And why he won’t bring his “traveling circus” to Philadelphia or a small town like Haddonfield.
This may melt my disdain. If he loves animals, and Pitties too, he can’t be a bad person!
— Wanda Fisher (@moozikaa1) July 1, 2022