The earliest memory I have of the Flyers is when I was six years old. I watched them get swept in the 1997-1998 Stanley Cup Finals and it is a memory I would just as soon forget. Since that time I have seen my fair share of Flyers heroes. From Keith Primeau and Jeremy Roenick in 2004, to Simon Gagne and Danny Briere in 2010, and to the many others in between, the Flyers have given me many good memories. Over the years, however, I have also seen quite a few “villains.” For example, watching Scott Stevens in New Jersey made me cringe almost as much as Sidney Crosby does now.
But there is one person who has gotten under my skin for over a decade: John Tortorella.
The truth is, I have a lot of respect for Tortorella. His teams are always tough to play against and are responsible in their own end. Despite his somewhat ugly split with New York last season, he had a good run with the Rangers and previously he was just as, if not more, impressive with the Lightning.
In his career John Tortorella owns the Flyers. In his first three seasons of coaching, 2000-2003, he had an awful 2-8-2 record against them. But since the 2003-2004 season he has a 30-13 regular season record against the Flyers and his teams swept the Flyers in ’03-’04, ’05-’06, and ’11-’12, going a combined 14-0 against them in those seasons.
Tortorella has also beaten the Flyers on the biggest stages. In 2004 the Flyers battled his Lightning team for seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals. The series went back and forth without a team winning more than one game in a row. The Flyers were down in game six and had to rely on a late tying goal by Keith Primeau and an overtime winner by Simon Gagne to force the seventh game. Tortorella’s Rangers also beat the Flyers in the 2012 Winter Classic that was held in Philadelphia.
On Tuesday night Tortorella brings his new team, the Vancouver Canucks into the Wells Fargo Center. Nothing would bring me more pleasure than seeing the Flyers whip up on Tortorella’s team. However, if past experience has shown us anything about teams coached by John Tortorella, it has shown us that the Flyers better be ready for a hard fought battle.