March 20, 2023
John Tortorella's clash with the Flyers' veteran core could derail the season

John Tortorella’s clash with the Flyers’ veteran core could derail the season

Despite the Philadelphia Flyers’ strong start to the season, John Tortorella’s intensity could already draw the ire of some of his stars. (Getty Images)

John Tortorella is a polarizing coach. The Philadelphia Flyers’ bench chief election could be called an experiment, especially considering the Flyers failed to qualify for the NHL playoffs in two consecutive seasons and finished eighth in the Metropolitan Division last year and Tortorella’s most recent tally did not is exemplary.

Tortorella’s method once worked in the NHL, but since 2013-2014 Tortorella’s teams have only advanced past the opening round of the playoffs once and only come as far as a second-round loss to the Boston Bruins in 2018-19.

In a 2019 article in the athlete, Tortorella’s “fleeting, confrontational style” has been criticized by former players who have claimed that he “chastised players during games in the middle of the dressing room or even on the bench, and there were times when the confrontations were awkward.” They occasionally left the rink angry at him and often disagreed with his coaching decisions and/or approach.”

In his six seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, that uneasiness culminated in an ugly run-in with star Pierre-Luc Dubois, who was later traded to Winnipeg. “Did Luc and I have conflicts? Damn right, we had conflicts,” Tortorella said. “To be honest, if someone doesn’t want to be here, it’s hard for me to take. I’m telling you, I think the athletes (today) , it’s a softer athlete. And the bench press; I would do it again.

Look back to today and another conflict appears to be brewing within the Flyers organization involving Tortorella and star players Travis Konecny ​​and Kevin Hayes. The coach kept his promise, benching Philadelphia’s top two scorers for the third period of Sunday’s game while the Flyers trailed the San Jose Sharks, 2-0.

Konecny ​​took charge of the bench press, telling the media “I didn’t play well enough” after he was on the ice for both of San Jose’s goals.

However, Tortorella’s preseason and previous promises also likely played a role in the decision. “I can’t convince them,” Tortorella said of the Flyers ahead of the season. “I’m going to tell them what we’re looking for, we’re going to get to that level, and if some people aren’t ready to get there, or maybe there’s some stubbornness about getting there, we’ll look to someone else.”

In the case of Konecny, this could involve an out-of-town trade. It’s not the first time Konecny ​​has been criticized or benched by a Flyers coach, having been scraped last season by then-head coach Alain Vigneault, who was fired mid-season. Konecny ​​finished the year as Philadelphia’s top scorer with 52 points in 79 games. However, throughout the season Konecny ​​was rumored to have been a trade target, and with his relationship with the enigmatic Tororella already seeming to be in bad shape, it’s likely that Konecny’s name will come up again in trade talks, especially if the Flyers fall into a loss zone. The team’s third-top scorer James van Riemsdyk is another possible trade target this season as the 33-year-old is set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season. Couple that with the fact that the Flyers don’t have a captain and the experienced core of the team appears to be in turmoil.

When asked about Hayes and Konecny’s bench press, Tortorella told reporters he would “keep it in the room.” However, it’s the same room, but Tortorella claimed he had “major concerns” ahead of the season. Losing support from their top two scorers could lead to another rift, similar to what happened in Columbus with Dubois, that only a trade can resolve. It will be a situation that general manager Chuck Fletcher, who has signed Konecny ​​and Hayes on six- and seven-year deals respectively, will have to oversee and at some point he may have to decide – is he keeping the players he’s signed, right? his newly hired coach?

If there are “major concerns” in Philadelphia’s locker, it will be interesting to see who Tortorella teams up with. Earlier this year, Tortorella touted and defended troubled blueliner Tony DeAngelo, saying, “Tony DeAngelo has personality. Will he say and do stupid things? You’re damn right he is. But I’d rather have a guy doing stupid stuff than a choirboy just going about your business. That’s not how you win, that’s not how you win championships, that’s not how you build a team without personality. Tony will bring that with him and besides, he’s a damn good player.”

That “personality” included alleged abuse of black teammate K’Andre Miller and a physical altercation with goaltender Alexander Georgiev that led to the New York Rangers ending DeAngelo’s contract in 2021. DeAngelo has also been banned multiple times from OHL for racism.

Meanwhile, “choirboys” Hayes and Konecny ​​will try to recover when the Flyers take on the Florida Panthers on Thursday. Philadelphia currently has a winning record in the first few weeks of the season, but the conditions for a turbulent future on and behind the bench appear to be right.

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