The hiring of John Tortorella, a coach with a strong resume that includes a Stanley Cup, was a good start for the striving-for-respectability Philadelphia Flyers. He will hold the players accountable and breathe much-needed life into the franchise.
But the Great Retool/Rebuild has taken steps in the wrong direction recently.
First, Joel Farabee, the gifted left winger who oozes potential, had neck surgery. Maybe he’ll be ready for the opener. Maybe his recovery will linger.
Next, a medical update on Ryan Ellis didn’t exactly inspire confidence that the veteran defenseman, the Flyers’ prize acquisition last year, is close to returning.
General manager Chuck Fletcher, trying to reinvent the Flyers after their second-worst season in franchise history, seems cautiously optimistic about Ellis’ recovery, but admitted he has no idea if he will be ready when the season starts.
“No one knows,” he said.
Fletcher was still reeling about Farabee’s injury when he met the media earlier this week.
“Hopefully there’s no more surprises his summer in a negative sense like I got a week and a half ago, when I got a call that Joel Farabee had numbness and pain in his neck, and it could be pretty bad,” Fletcher said. “I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ”
And then came this bombshell Friday: Promising goalie Ivan Fedotov was detained at the request of Russia’s military prosecutors on suspicion of avoiding military service.
Yes, it appears Russia is making Fedotov a political pawn as it tries to send a message around the world.
Fedotov had been playing for Russia’s Central Sport Club of the Army (CSKA), whose members are officially military personnel.
Reportedly, he became ill Friday and was taken from a Russian military registration and enlistment office to a hospital by ambulance, per the Russia media.
The Flyers are exploring the situation but, in reality, what can they do?
“This organization is cursed,” someone tweeted.
“The Curse of Kate Smith,” someone else responded.
To me, Fedotov, 25, was going to be one of the most interesting stories of training camp. Perhaps he could win the No. 2 spot in a battle with Felix Sandstrom. Perhaps he could push No. 1 goaltender Carter Hart, who could use some pushing.
The 6-foot-7, 205-pound goalie played so well in Russia. He starred in the Olympics and for CSKA, and it appeared then-general manager Ron Hextall may have uncovered a gem with a seventh-round pick in 2015.
Fedotov was terrific in the KHL last season, and was lights-out in the playoffs (16-6 record, 1.85 GAA, .937 save percentage) as he led his team to the Gagarin Cup championship.
And now this.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) June 30, 2022
In the bigger picture, will Russia try to detain other NHL players from leaving its country to return to North America for training camp and the season?
It is not known if Ivan Provorov, a top-pairing Philadelphia Flyers defenseman, returned to his Russia homeland in the offseason. In his end-of-season exit interview, Provorov declined answering when asked if he was going back to Russia in the summer.
A source said Saturday that Provorov was still in the South Jersey area last week, but had planned to return to Russia at some point this summer. The Fedotov situation may change that.
And hopefully the Flyers’ fortunes will get better this summer, starting Thursday as they make the fifth overall selection in the NHL draft.
More importantly, it is hoped Fedotov isn’t sent to prison, that he can live a normal life, that he is able to come to Philadelphia and become a big part of their renaissance.