Tortorella reminds his message in benching Flyers’ stars

Flyers' Kevin Hayes
Flyers’ Kevin Hayes (Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)

John Tortorella isn’t a person who minces his words. He says what he means and means what he says. This particular wording in a document he sent to all the Philadelphia Flyers season ticket holders before the beginning of the 2022-2023 regular season hits home following last night’s loss:

“Every single player will be tough to play against, and above all, give an honest effort. If they don’t, you won’t see that player very much. That, and that alone will be the driving force to our success and will define our 2022-23 season.”

John Tortorella; 9/21/2022

Despite an unexpectedly hot start in the eyes of most critics, he benched the two leading scorers. In the third period against the San Jose Sharks, Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny did not see the ice for a moment.

Adding context; James van Riemsdyk was hurt earlier in the game, and Tortorella still made an example out of Hayes and Konecny.

If you’re keeping count, the top three scorers on the Flyers were absent in the final frame. The Sharks led by two goals, notoriously recognized as the worst lead in hockey. Tortorella addressed Hayes and Konecny by sending the loudest message he could. He stuck to his guns, doing what he said in the penned letter to season ticket holders.

When asked about the message he sent to Hayes and Konecny, Tortorella said, “I’m going to just keep that in the room.” He followed that with an even more blunt answer; “our whole performance, it sucked.”

Learning how to complete a back-to-back series was a point of emphasis from Tortorella. Twice this week, Philadelphia dropped the second game in a back-to-back. First, it was the Florida Panthers, 4-3. Then, there was last night versus San Jose, 3-0. He stressed turnovers as a critical point of failure.

“We absolutely don’t give ourselves a chance because of turnovers. These guys get to bed probably 3:30am last night. I don’t think it’s a physical tiredness. I think sometimes they may be a little groggy mentally; but if you’re a pro, you got to figure out how to simplify your game.”

John Tortorella; 10/23/2022

Hayes did have a giveaway in the second period on a powerplay, but Joel Farabee nearly scored moments later. Scott Laughton was offsides when Hayes entered the offensive zone. It took away the advantage from the Flyers, and the momentum stayed with San Jose despite Ferraro being in the box. Just over a minute after the Sharks killed that penalty, Erik Karlsson gave his team a lead.

“I don’t think he was too happy with my game,” Hayes said about being benched by Tortorella.

Konecny was a liability in terms of turnovers. He had three, including a direct giveaway in the defensive zone that led to an extended possession for San Jose. The extension turned into the Karlsson goal shortly after the heartbreaking powerplay. Later in the period, Konecny was on the ice for another scoring play after a breakdown between Felix Sandstrom and Tony DeAngelo. After the game, Konecny took ownership:

“We weren’t playing good enough. I was out there for both goals.”

Travis Konecny; 10/23/2022

Furthermore, Konecny mentioned how transparent Tortorella was at the beginning of training camp. “It doesn’t matter who you are, you got to play the right way,” said Konecny.

Tortorella is one to address the big picture. Benching Hayes and Konecny last night doesn’t mean the team is on a downward spiral. San Jose are 2-6-0 after shutting out Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center. His decision to bench top scorers after losing another due to injury stressed accountability.

After all, accountability symbolizes an honest effort, the lone driving force of the Flyers’ success in the 2022-2023 campaign.

(Photo Credit/Alex McIntyre)