The Flyers are a little over a quarter of the way done the 2022-23 season. And if we are going to be fair and critique and analyze the players, we should do the same for the men who lead this team and have put this team together.
Coach John Tortorella — A+
How? How can you give him an A+ when the team is next to last place in the division and near the bottom of all of the good statistical categories in the league? I know that’s what you’re thinking.
Here’s the thing. He inherited a team that was a mess after firing Alain Vigneault. The team had lost it’s captain. Salary cap issues hampered who the team could acquire (more on this later). Tortorella had to play with the cards he had been dealt with.
And with that hand, he had the Flyers at or near the top of the division at the end of October. They were playing above expectations. Then the bottom fell out when everyone got hurt. Even then, the team played hard.
Tortorella is known for having a reputation for being rough on players. And yet, outside of calling out Rasmus Ristolainen, I haven’t seen the tyrant behind the bench. Instead, here is a coach who has been defending his young players and the abilities of his players.
He sees what we don’t see. He’s spent a lifetime in this game. He sees that the players are trying despite all the difficulties. He is rallying behind them and at some point they will rallying around him. He is going to be the coach to resurrect this team. It is coming. Sit and be patient.
Kim Dillabaugh — A+
Dillabaugh is the goalie coach. I can’t say much about him except that he has turned Carter Hart into a beast this season. Even during the 10 game losing streak, Hart was playing outstanding hockey.
Considering how bad this team has been with all of the injuries, Hart has definitely been a bright spot for this team. Dillabaugh has a lot to do with that.
Rocky Thompson and Brad Shaw — INC
It’s not that I can’t say anything positive or negative about them. It’s mostly that, due to injuries, it’s kind of hard to say what their affect has been on the team to be fair. The power play unit and penalty kill unit has not been good. It hasn’t been good in years. But part of helping that get better is having healthy players that you are depending on to be there.
Chuck Fletcher — Offseason Grade —- C, Season Grade — B+
So, why is Fletcher getting two grades? First of all, he hired a great coach in Tortorella. That, as I said, will pay off.
So, first we look at his offseason. He didn’t do much. He couldn’t. The Flyers are knocking at the door of salary cap hell. The team overspent on players, like Ristolainen. Now, they don’t have a lot of room to maneuver. The best signing they had was Nic Deslauriers; which shouldn’t be a good move, but has paid off well. But in a year with several top tier free agents, the Flyer stood pat while the rest of the Eastern Conference beefed up. Again, a lot of that is hampered by other deals Fletcher has done.
Then this season began. Lots of players got hurt. When players started getting hurt, Fletcher resorted to hitting the waiver wire. He picked up two guys.
The first was Lukas Sedlak, who has been a wonderful addition. It’s rare to hear fans rave about a second line player, but Sedlak has been playing lights out. He has three goals and five assists since joining the team. That’s not bad.
The second was Kieffer Bellows. This one made sense. He was a former first rounder who may have needed a change of scenery. It didn’t work out, but I can’t be mad at the pick.
At the same time, Artem Anisimov is waiting in Lehigh Valley. He has scored three goals in six games and seems to be chomping at the bit for his chance to play. The Flyers do not currently have a contract spot open for him, though.
Fletcher has a lot of mess he has to clean up. The team he has assembled has played well enough, considering the type of players they are. But it would be nice to have top tier player on this team.