When the Phillies hired Joe Girardi, I was excited. He had won a World Series in New York and seemed like a welcome breath of fresh air that this team needed. He was fired after a horrible start to this season and his team won nine games in a row as soon as he was let go. Somewhere along the way, he lost the team
When the Eagles hired Nick Sirianni, I was floored. I didn’t think he had enough experience. I was openly rooting for the team to hire Duce Staley, as were many Eagles fans. As the team started off slowly, it all but confirmed for me that Siranni was in over his head. One year later, I think the Birds got something.
Like many Flyers fans who went to bed last night, I saw that Bruce Cassidy had signed with Vegas and figured that the coaching dominos would start to fall. When I woke up, I saw that the Flyers domino had fallen and that the new head coach would be John Tortorella. And like many fans of the Orange and Black, I was openly rooting for Barry Trotz.
Torts is long known as a guy who can be abrasive. I fear that this could turn this team off. We saw similar things with similar coaches recently like Peter Laviolette and Alain Vigneault. Both guys had success early on with the team, but over time their emphasis on discipline turned the players off and they lost the locker room.
Tortorella is a guy who can turn this team around. If he can maintain the clubhouse, he will be awesome. Case in point is how he handled Columbus. The Blue Jackets were the worst of the last wave of expansion. They were the last team of the Predators, Wild, and Thrashers/Jets to make the playoffs and the last one to win a series. In their first 16 seasons, they made the playoffs twice. Then came Torts and they made four straight playoff appearances starting in his second season. However, the team only made it out of the first round once.
Cam Atkinson seems pretty high on him. Atkinson is a growing team leader and is seen as one of those guys in the clubhouse who needs to step up their game and their voice. Atkinson could be the guy to help integrate him into the team culture as well as help the team integrate the team to meet Tortorella’s expectations.
He has a knack of making the playoffs and has a Stanley Cup under his belt with Tampa in 2004. He also guided the Rangers to some deep runs in the 2010s. He knows how to get the job done.
Is he the right guy for the team? Time will tell. If the Flyers win the Stanley Cup and/or make deep playoff runs over the next few years, all of this “is he the right guy” will be laughable. If the Flyers keep stumbling around and are first round outs in the playoffs, then everyone will say, “See, I told you so!!!”
Flyers fans are getting tired of mediocrity from a talented group of players. Maybe Torts is the guy who can kick this team in the butt and get them moving. Or maybe he can help clean house and get rid of dead weight.
Either way, this team needs to get moving. Looking at the rest of the Metro Division, the Hurricanes are positioning themselves as the class of the division and could remain there for a while. The Rangers have greatly improved and looked poised to challenge the Canes for top dog in the division. The Pens and Caps are getting older but are still talented enough to be problematic.
The Isles are in a state of transition but still have a lot of talent. The Devils are young, and the Blue Jackets are overachieving with what they have. The Flyers can’t afford to sit back and watch anymore.