A letter penned by Flyers head coach John Tortorella circulated the internet on Monday afternoon. It was sent out to the team’s Inside Edge Members, otherwise known as season ticket holders.
It stated what most have already known since before this season began. The Flyers “are not there yet” and “this year was the first step in building the future of the Flyers.” Again, why does any of this matter if fans already knew this to be true?
Well, let’s take it back to December for a moment. Because this isn’t the first time that Tortorella has talked about how there isn’t an easy fix to bring this team back into contention. And how this won’t be done in the span of a year.
Tortorella was asked about the team and how he saw things moving forward. Notably, this was right after the Flyers had lost 10 games in a row, and 11 of their last 12. And he was blunt in his assessment, as he typically has been.
"“This isn’t a one-year type of thing. We’ve got some work to do. And it’s gonna take some time, no matter what people want to hear out here. It’s going to take some time to get this right.”"
There’s the mention of it not being a one-year thing. Tortorella also talked about the team being “at the grassroots” when it came to teaching. That’s not what you would say if you expected to turn things around quickly.
So if Tortorella was publicly saying things like this, one would assume the rest of the organization felt the same, right?
Well, not exactly. On that same day in December, Chuck Fletcher was scheduled to address the state of the team. Hence why Tortorella was asked about his thoughts. Surely he had to admit that things weren’t going well. That was further from the truth, at least in his eyes.
"`”I think there’s a path forward here to be more competitive and I expect to be more competitive the rest of the way. We’re five points out of a wild card spot right now. We’ll see if we have the capability of staying in that race and competing.”"
Five points out of a wild-card was Fletcher’s selling point. The team is currently six points out. Wonder if Fletcher is still singing those same praises? There’s no denying that this team is working hard and giving it all they’ve got. That has been one of the things that Tortorella has praised throughout the season.
The team is also seeing different players stepping up into new roles like Travis Konecny and Scott Laughton. Young players are carving roles such as Noah Cates and Morgan Frost. Veterans are seemingly buying in to the messages and showing a willingness to change such as Kevin Hayes.
But despite all of that, this team is not built to contend. They are not a few pieces away from making a run. It’s time to call this what it really is. And this letter, though penned by Tortorella, signifies that the organization understands where they are at.
They just simply know that Tortorella is a much more trusted voice that fans will listen to right now. But this didn’t just come from him. A letter like that had to be approved with the specific language involved in it. That’s almost certainly why the word “building” was chosen and not “rebuilding.” But that’s also how Tortorella has spoken about the team. So it’s on par there.
Maybe Chuck Fletcher and now Dave Scott have finally gotten there, though. For the Flyers sake, let’s hope they are ready to admit that there is no quick fix for this. The next few weeks leading up to the trade deadline will be telling.
Tortorella has consistently said that we will learn a lot about this team and it’s players as they continue to determine who is worth keeping. And on the flip side, who won’t be a part of this organization moving forward. That time is now if the Flyers want to find a way out of this purgatory that they’ve been stuck in for years.
Build an identity John Tortorella. And let’s finally get this thing moving where it should have been a long time ago.