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Flyers’ Tortorella Actually Likes Zegras: ‘He seems like a terrific kid’



Trevor Zegras
Prior to suffering a broken ankle, Anaheim Ducks star Trevor Zegras was reportedly on the trade block. (Photo: AP)

Not long after the Philadelphia Flyers traded for Jamie Drysdale, fellow Anaheim Ducks player and best friend Trevor Zegras became the butt of trade rumors. The connection between Drysdale and Zegras made the Flyers an obvious speculative trade partner. However, many were quick to cite John Tortorella as a reason Zegras wouldn’t work out in Philadelphia. If the 2023-24 season and the Kevin Hayes rumors weren’t proof enough, the perpetuated misconception about Tortorella and his coaching style still makes no sense.

Back in the 2021-22 season – Zegras’s first full year in the NHL – the Ducks star made it onto highlight reels everywhere when he flipped the puck up from behind the net and threw it to the front for teammate Sonny Milano to whack home for a goal. Tortorella wasn’t overly impressed at the time, commenting, “I’m not trying to be difficult about it. It’s fun to watch. It’s really cool, but I just think our game has gone so far away from what the game should be. A hard game, an honest game. It’s almost gotten to showman. . . I’m from the ilk that an honest hockey game needs to be played.”

The Flyers coach later reflected on the media fallout on ESPN, blasting the national response to his words and harping on the fact that they had put the young Zegras in a tough spot. Tortorella finished up by going out of his way to praise Zegras, saying that they had chatted at 2 a.m. one night and that “He seems like a terrific kid, tremendously skilled. I do, I hope he does [the Michigan move] again!” with a big smile.

If Zegras did end up on the Flyers, would Tortorella tell him not to do the Michigan or any of the other tricks or skills that make him a special and exciting player? No, most certainly not. On the contrary, it’s Tortorella’s job to continue encouraging those things while ensuring Zegras played a responsible game without the puck at both ends. Whatever you thought about Tortorella and Zegras, you thought wrong.

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