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Flyers’ Coach Salutes Fletcher, Feels Excited for Briere

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John Tortorella, Philadelphia Flyers
Photo: AP.

Understandably, Philadelphia Flyers coach John Tortorella feels badly for former general manager Chuck Fletcher.

It was Fletcher who gave Tortorella a four-year, $16-milion contract in June. They worked together for just 65 games. Fletcher was fired Friday.

“He is the reason I’m here,” Tortorella told reporters before the Flyers played in Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon. “I loved working for him. Very intelligent hockey guy. I think (he) takes a hit for some prior situations, if I can put it that way.”

Yes, Fletcher was victimized by injuries to key players, and he didn’t inherit a Stanley Cup roster when he was hired in December, 2018.

But he was passive in the trade and free-agent markets, and his “aggressive retool” plan fizzled. And some of his highly questionable signings crippled the Philadelphia Flyers against the cap.

Fletcher “never really had a full team that he expected,” said Tortorella, mentioning injuries to Sean Couturier, Cam Atkinson, Ryan Ellis and, more recently, Travis Konecny. “Some of the previous drafts put him in a spot when he takes over.”

Consider that a not-too-veiled shot at Ron Hextall, the Flyers’ previous general manager.

Tortorella called Fletcher “a good man. Having said all that, he understands the business. I understand the business. It happens. It happens to all of us — you’re going to get fired” at some point.

‘Nothing but respect’

“But I have nothing but respect for the guy, and loved the time I worked with him. I wish I worked with him longer.”

Danny Briere, 45, has replaced Fletcher, and is the interim general manager.

When he played, Briere could analyze a game with the best of them. The Flyers believe he has the same ability to analyze talent.

On the ABC/ESPN broadcast Saturday, broadcaster Brian Boucher praised Briere, who is a former teammate, and said his competitive nature will make him aggressive as a general manager — and bring them back to some of their better days, when Ed Snider was the club’s chairman.

Tortorella also had kind words for Briere, who played six seasons with the Flyers.

“It’s exciting for me to see a young man that’s put his time in,” said Tortorella, who was an assistant for the Coyotes when Briere played there. “I coached him when he first broke in. I’ve watched him throughout his career. First-class person.”

Tortorella said he was “very fortunate to be part of it with him.”

Briere, who attended Saturday’s game in Pittsburgh, will address the media Sunday.

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