John Tortorella is NOT the Flyers Problem

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Tortorella is Loyal

During the darkest days of the 10-game losing streak, the press constantly wanted to Tortorella to talk badly about his players. He wouldn’t give in. He constantly defended his team for playing their hardest. Several times, he blamed himself for the losses instead of throwing his players under the bus. Likewise, after the trade deadline, and even during the offseason, he defended Chuck Fletcher’s moves, or lack thereof.

He is true to those above him and those who work for him. That builds a closeness. It shows that the coach has their back. Even when losing, the coach will stand by them if they are giving it their all. This team does not have a lot of talent, but when they try their best and leave it all on the ice, Tortorella will not blame them for their effort.

The “Antics” Have Worked

There have been only a few times that Coach Tortorella has benched or scratched players: Travis Konecny, Kevin Hayes (a few times), Tony DeAngelo, Ramsus Ristolainen and Travis Sanheim. There were also rumors that Joel Farabee was upset with the coach, but those rumors were squashed by both Farabee and Tortorella.

In pretty much every case, the player in question rebounded. Konecny, after returning from an injury, went on to have a very productive December and January. Hayes was named as an All-Star and stepped his game up, while he is no longer the center that Torts had hoped he would become. Risto’s game has greatly improved. Sanheim has yet to really prove he’s worth the contract he’s signed. DeAngelo is streaky, but has shown some improvement. Farabee has yet to get back on track, but with all the mounting injuries on offense, it just may be hard for him to get going.

But the point is, few of the players have ever commented about it. Even then, Tortorella won’t talk about it publicly. He acknowledges a player was benched or scratched and leaves it that. The player’s dignity is held up, but the message is sent. It has worked.

Tortorella Has Been Honest

From day one, Tortorella has told the fans of this team that this is not an easy fix. Don’t expect us to make the playoffs. He even sent a letter to the season ticket holders. He has been honest that this season is all about evaluating players and seeing what this team has. He may not want to be in a rebuild, but he is in it. He will change this team around and he is doing it little by little.

Tortorella Is Changing the Culture of This Team

For the last 10 years or so, you could watch the Flyers and see the point when the team on ice just plain gave up. You could see the attitude in how they are skating…even if it was just the first period. They’ve given up and don’t care.

You don’t see that attitude this year. Even in the losses, there are many games that they are fighting down to the wire. Most of the losses have been close games. And after Konecny got hurt and the offense dried up, the Flyers are still trying. They just are not successful.

That in itself is a win. They are trying to do what they can to not be embarrassed. In many ways, they’ve played better than the talent they got on the ice. Maybe that’s what fueled the Christmas to All Star Game surge. But players like Nick Seeler and Noah Cates are playing very well. There is some talent here that can turn this team around. And a large part of that is Tortorella making this team care about what they do night in and night out.

John Tortorella is not the perfect coach, but find me someone who is. However, I think he is perfect for this team. He’s changing the culture from what it was. He understands that this is a hard process and not an easy fix. He’s been open and honest about what he needs to do and what his players need to do. He’s been transparent all along.

For that reason, he is the right coach for the Philadelphia Flyers right now. The Flyers are a indeed a mess. However, the head coach is not one of the problems. If anything, he is part of the solution and one of the few things that Fletcher has done correctly this year.