Flyers’ house divided between building philosophies

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Flyers' John Tortorella
PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 08: Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella looks on during the game between the ST. Louis Blues and the Philadelphia Flyers on November 8, 2022 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

A house divided cannot stand.

That doesn’t mean the locker room. You can watch the Philadelphia Flyers play each night and know the players are playing hard for each other. Opposing teams are not pushing them around as they did a season ago. On the ice, the parity of high-end talent waves its red flag with pronounced strides.

There is an ever-evolving dissonance. John Tortorella isn’t pulling punches. Not crazy about buzzwords such as ‘retool’ or ‘rebuild,’ Tortorella remained as transparent as ever about the process of correcting the Flyers:

“This isn’t a one-year type of thing. We’ve got some work to do. It’s gonna’ take some time, no matter what people want to hear. If we want to get it right, it’s going to take some time.”

John Tortorella; 12/1/2022

Additionally, Tortorella took another jab. Hearing the bench boss say this about the current philosophy to get Philadelphia fans into the Wells Fargo Center:

“You just get stuck in the mud if you continue to put band-aids on and gimmicks to get people in the building, whatever it is. You get people in the building and get it right by winning. The only way you can win is building it the proper way, and that’s how we’re going to go about it.”

John Tortorella; 12/1/2022

That quote captures what the fanbase wants to hear and, quite frankly, what needs to happen. It also sounds nothing like what Chuck Fletcher presented at any point. Fletcher presented ‘aggressive retool,’ then ‘stabilize.’ More than a quarter through the 2022-2023 season, Tortorella takes a realistic approach to build a better Flyers future. Fletcher remains delusional, citing the team is within reach of a postseason position:

“We’re five points out a wild card. We’ll see if we have the capability of staying in that race and competing. There’s a path forward to be more competitive, and I expect to be more competitive the rest of the way.”

Chuck Fletcher; 12/1/2022

Tortorella and Fletcher represent two opposite ends of the spectrum when speaking about the state and direction of the team. Internally, there are discussions about ‘what are we doing, and where are we going?’ It seems there are two separate paths. The situation in Philadelphia was never alluring to anyone; except Tortorella. He wants this opportunity to build a once proud franchise the correct way.

Throughout the season, Tortorella mentions the requirement to find out what the team is. That includes his direct reporting to Fletcher, through conversations, about gauging who is and who isn’t a part of the solution. While figuring out which players belong and who don’t, Fletcher is constructing the contracts.

Figuring out what the team is is a baseline approach to building. It is the healthier option, but there is a lack of harmonious commitment throughout the organization.

Last night’s 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning was the 24th game of the 2022-2023 season, yet Fletcher expects to become more competitive for a wild card spot, dragging away from a helping tool at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.

Popular consensus, whether you support the Flyers or not, is following the lead Tortorella stated. They’ll play hard throughout the season, not tanking whatsoever, but the parity is too great to fool anyone into competing for a postseason berth. It’s the right decision to discover who and what sticks in 2022-2023, then drive forward with a decent pick at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. Tortorella never moved the goalpost on his philosophy, but Fletcher hasn’t been in touch with a plan to build appropriately, which will be cited as his ultimate downfall.

(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)