When a lot of people go to hockey games, most people like to sit near the glass. It’s close to the action, close to the players, and is a fun perspective of the game. However, you don’t always get the best views.
I myself prefer to sit in the cheap seats near the top. For one, it is not as expensive and I don’t have a lot of money. However, I like to see the play develop. I prefer to sit behind the net, on top, so I can watch everything going on with the game. But again, that’s me.
Flyers head coach John Tortorella was not on the bench for the games against Ottawa and Buffalo. He’s been up in the management boxes or in the locker room. He too can see everything. However, that’s not why he is up there.
"“It sucks up there. I didn’t learn a thing up there. That is answer alley because everybody has the answer up there because it’s so slow….I just think it gives them (his assistants) a chance to develop and see the bench at that spectrum. I think it’s my responsibility.”"
A general is only as good as the officers underneath him. By allowing his assistants to get some in-game experience, it is giving them valuable leadership tools and skills in which they need to develop to become better coaches in their own right. They will also be able to learn how to make split decisions there on the bench that will directly affect the game in that moment. A good coach helps to develop his assistants. Great coaches give them the opportunities to further their development.
Tortorella spent some of the time in the box with new Flyers general manager Daniel Briere. He offered this about his time in the box with him as well:
"“It was really good for Danny and I because we got to converse. We got to converse about style of play, what’s going on with certain plays. We got to converse on personnel. It’s the most him and I were able to sit down and talk about the future of the team. We did some evaluating. It gave me and my general manager [an opportunity] to talk about that specific player on that specific play. And maybe one of the conversations was, ‘Yeah, it’s a habit of his, we’re trying to get him out of it.’ Those are the type of conversations and evaluations we had. Especially with me sitting next to my general manager, I thought it was really healthy for him and I.”"
This, I think, is the more important piece of the puzzle. If a coach and general manager are on the same page, good things will happen. They can work on a shared vision for what they want the team to be.
And while Tortorella said he didn’t see much, he was sharing what he knew and what he wanted Briere to see. There are probably players he is high on that he wants to show Briere why. There are other players that aren’t fitting his system that he used this time to explain why they aren’t a fit moving forward.
These conversations will help both GM and coach grow. Tortorella can learn from Briere, a former player who was well respected for his intelligence, how to tap into a young player’s mind to bring him to their full potential. Likewise, Briere can learn about organizational needs and building on a shared vision.
Briere and Tortorella seem to have a great mutual respect for each other. This partnership can only get better the more they work with each other. This Flyers season has had a lot of ups and downs, however, there are some bright spots if you look hard enough. This could be the start of one of those bright spots. This relationship could become a very strong one.