It finally happened. John Tortorella has been announced as the 23rd head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, and judging by the reaction on Twitter; we are in for a really fun season. Tortorella, or Torts for short, comes to Philly after last being the bench boss for the Columbus Blue Jackets from 2015 to 2021. One former Blue Jacket, Cam Atkinson, is excited to welcome his new (old) coach to Philadelphia.
Cam Atkinson played for Tortorella for six seasons in Columbus. It’s been said that he had been pushing for the Flyers to hire Tortorella as the next head coach. Tortorella released the following statement following the announcement:
“I am very excited to be joining such a historic and well-respected franchise like the Philadelphia Flyers,” said Tortorella. “From my very first conversation with Chuck, I knew this was the right fit for me and I believe in the direction this team is heading. Having faced the Flyers for several years, I know firsthand how tough of a city Philly is to play in and I look forward to being on the right side of the bench on opening night in front of such a loyal and passionate crowd of Flyers fans.”Statement from John Tortorella, 6-16-22
Tortorella was Made to be a Flyer
Torts is a fiery individual who holds his players accountable. Atkinson once said of Tortorella that it didn’t matter who you were; if you looked like you weren’t playing hard, you got benched. He demands the best effort from his players, and despite the criticism, the players seem to respond positively.
Just how fiery is Torts? Well, he once tried to fight the entire Calgary Flames team in the tunnel. It is similar to Peter Laviolette telling Steve Ott to go F-himself in Dallas. The two American-born coaches have similarities, and the Flyers’ last trip to the Stanley Cup Finals was under the fiery Laviolette.
“IT’S THE PHILADELPHIA FLYERS! THAT’S ALL I HAVE TO SAY!”
Upon completion of the press conference today, here are some of my takeaways. First, you could just feel that you could feel Tortorella’s excitement to coach this team. He talked that back in the 2003-04 season, his then Tampa Bay Lightning team had to go through Philadelphia en route to winning the Stanley Cup. He mentioned that during that series, he told his wife that he would love the opportunity to coach in Philadelphia, that it was a hard city to play in; he mentioned the logo multiple times and the toughness of the city. During his zoom meeting, Tortorella showed energy and honesty; he was ready to attack.
“It’s going to be a very difficult camp, high volume of skating. The players will be told this. We are going to attack this!”JOHN TORTORELLA 6-17-22
Tortorella wants to create an identity that the Flyers are hard to play against. To make sure that opposing teams will have their hands full. To accomplish this, Tortorella said that the Flyers must change how they play away from the puck and that they need to help Carter Hart by playing a better defensive game.
“Bottom line is I want the team to be hard. I think we need to present ourselves, look harder coming of the bus, coming into the buildings. I want other teams to say, ‘you know what, we got our hands full tonight.’ All the things that come with that starts with teaching play away from the puck.”JOHN TORTORELLA 6-17-22
Lastly, Tortorella spoke of interacting with his players. He said they can expect honesty from him. Torts spoke of relationships with former players, including former Flyer Scottie Hartnell. He said that when he got to Columbus, Hartnell had control of the dressing room, and Torts had to wrestle that away from him. He also spoke of coaching Atkinson and how Atkinson was stubborn, but Tortorella liked how that quality.
Torts also spoke of Kevin Hayes and how he feels that Hayes is a huge piece in turning the Flyers around. He said how he is excited to work with the Flyer’s veteran, that Hayes was big in the middle, and that he hopes he can help Hayes get even better.
With Tortorella, the bottom line is that he will be in control. If you don’t play the right way, you will get benched. Patrick Laine, Scottie Hartnell, and Atkinson can attest to this.
A look at Tortorella’s NHL coaching career
Tortorella has been a head coach for parts of twenty seasons, winning the Stanley Cup in the 03-04 season and two Jack Adams awards as the NHL’s best coach. He led his teams to the playoffs during twelve of his seasons and is one of the winning-est American-born head coaches in NHL history. Tortorella also won a Calder Cup in 1996.
Torts brings a passion for the game that is just what Philly needs. This isn’t a slight to say that previous coaches didn’t have passion. Behind closed doors, they very well could have, but with Tortorella, you will definitely know where you stand. Tortorella may not have been the coach the fans wanted, but he is definitely the coach this organization needs.