Ever since Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher failed to trade James van Riemsdyk, or any other major player, during the NHL’s trade deadline last week, he’s been facing a ton of criticism. Many Flyers fans are calling for his head, although to be fair, there have been calls to have him removed since last summer. Poor trades, poor draft picks, poor handling of the salary cap, and a general sense of incompetence have led to these calls and they are only getting louder.
As the no-trades by the Flyers happened, Fletcher took to the podium and tried to talk about what happened and what didn’t transpire.
You can see his initial statements here in this video:
I n layman’s terms, this is his version of a “My bad!” But one of those things he said ran deep: “that’s on me.” He’s taking and accepting responsibility for not getting the job done. He realizes that the fan base is foaming at the most and understands it’s because of his inaction.
He had all year to work on a trade for van Riemsdyk and Justin Braun. Again, I have said before in a few other pieces, we don’t know what a gm faces. Did other teams sense weakness and offered nothing? Fletcher kind of hinted at that a few times. Maybe he waited too long. Maybe he thought he was smarter than everyone else and got outsmarted by everyone. It’s hard to say.
In the middle of all this mess, Coach John Tortorella stepped in and defended his boss. In an interview, posted by NBCSports Philadelphia, he said the following:
"“But I get it. I haven’t been here the whole time. I think Chuck has been kind of run over and chucked darts at for quite a bit here. For me, chuck darts at me when you guys think I deserve it. I just don’t want you to manufacture criticism of Chuck at this point in time at the deadline because something sexy didn’t happen. Nothing sexy was going to happen, I think we all understand that, don’t we, going into this. Expiring contracts, we were trying to gain assets. That’s the key. And he tried. But you still need people that are willing to join in.”"
I respect Coach Tortorella’s stance for a few reasons. For one, this is not the first time that Torts has spoken up in defense of his team. When the team played badly, he stood up for them. When an agent said that Joel Farabee was unhappy, Torts said that that was crap and everything was good. He has defended players time and time again from media scrutiny from being benched, trade rumors, and other incidents.
Secondly, it shows a lot of loyalty on behalf of Tortorella. Many people were unsure how he would fit in here in Philadelphia. So far, he’s done very well as a head coach despite a dearth of injuries and inconsistent play from the players. He’s said over and over that this season is not about this year and for years to come. And while the future is murky, there are some things that could be positive.
Fletcher took a chance on Torts. Likewise, Torts is showing a lot of courage to defend his general manager. By taking criticism away from his players all season, he’s helped to make a strong bond with them. Likewise, the relationship between a coach and general manager is one of the most important in sports. They have to trust each other and be on the same page at all times.
I for one would love to see the revolving door of Flyers coaches and (recently) general managers. I would love to see this team become consistently good again. I know, deep in my heart, that that will be a long while to come.
While I do not think that Fletcher has done well here in Philadelphia, I can appreciate Tortorella speaking up on his behalf. He is correct that there is a lot that we don’t know that goes on behind the scenes. And while I may disagree with the coach, I will say I can respect his thoughts and opinions. If anything, Fletcher’s hiring of Tortorella has been the best move he’s made since being here.