Even in a down season, there was a lot to talk about this year. From new players, new coaches, winning streaks, losing streaks. players deciding they’d rather play in Europe, bounce back seasons, and turmoil, there was a lot going on this year. Let’s take a look back at some of the major news stories from the Flyers this season.
Tortorella Named as Head Coach
First and foremost, it has to be the hiring of the new head coach of the Flyers, John Tortorella. The Flyers fired Alain Vigneault last year and needed a new coach. After a lengthy search, Torts was named the new head coach.
He immediately said he didn’t care about wins or losses. He was here to change the culture. And that he did. Detractors said he was too brutal and ruthless. At the same time he defended the players from the press and he gave a lot of players their chance to play when they earned it. This team won a lot more games than it did the year before and it seems that the team is moving in the right direction
Adios Chuck Fletcher
Former general manager Chuck Fletcher has taken a lot of heat over the years. Fans have been calling for his head for a while. His trades made you scratch your head along with some of his free agent pickups. Even then, Tortorella defended Fletcher and his way of handling the team.
But the axe fell on Fletcher after his inability to move high priced, potential free agents at the trade deadline. The fans were upset. Fletcher defended his actions. But with lots of opportunities to potentially improve the team, nothing was done. The team moved on. Who would take over? Turns out, it was Daniel Briere. And Flyers fans everywhere rejoiced and have actual hope.
Have You Seen Ivan Feodotov? Is He Ok?
Nothing is more crazier than the story of a potential backup goalie being held as a prisoner in Russia. But it happened.
Ivan Fedotov, a former draft pick, signed a deal to bring him over from Russia to play for the chance to compete for the backup spot. Worse comes to worse, he might have been the starter for the Phantoms. He came over with good credentials, including helping to win the KHL Championship as part of CSKA Moscow.
Funny thing…CSKA is technically owned by the military since it used to be the famous Red Army team. And unless you’ve been under a rock for the last 14 months, you may have heard that Russia is fighting (and losing) a war in Ukraine and need just about anyone they can get at this point.
With him signing to play in the USA, it was alleged that he was “derelict of duty”; basically he was AWOL. He was arrested…or as they say in Russia, “detained“. He was sent to a military base and little has been heard from him or about him. All that we know is that he was not going to play in Philly this year. Although, this did open up the path for Samuel Ersson and Felix Sandstrom to get their chance to play.
Hopefully he is okay and safe.
As the team went on a youth movement and tried to plug holes due to injuries, many players got a chance to show what they got. However, some didn’t fit the bill at times. If they didn’t play well, no matter how much they were earning, they found a seat on the bench. It started with Travis Konecny and Kevin Hayes sitting during a game. Konecny responded well and had the best year of his career. Hayes moped about it and got benched again. He got better, and then kind of fell off the face of the Earth.
Hayes isn’t the only one either. Travis Sanheim missed a game in order to get him going again. Tony DeAngelo missed the last few weeks of the season after being benched in December. The message was loud and clear. Anyone can be benched at any time for any reason if Tortorella felt it was necessary. Some rose to the occasion while others haven’t. But these benchings will make for an interesting offeason.
Playing the Kids
When Tortorella was hired, he said he was going to “play the kids” to see what they had to offer. A lot of young guys got their chance to play. Cam York, Owen Tippett, Morgan Frost, Noah Cates, Egor Zamula, Ronnie Attard, Elliot Desnoyers, Tyson Foerster, Olle Lycksell, Jackson Cates, Adam Ginning, Max Willman, and Tanner Laczynski all got to debut, play, and/or see their roles expanded on this team this year.
These guys are the future of the team. The Flyers need to see who fits the team and who is worth keeping around. Tortorella did that. And the Flyers have reaped some of the benefits because of this. Our future is bright because the “kids” got to get their chance to see what the NHL is like.