Tortorella should offer the Flyers a needed spark

by Marc Narducci | Jun 20, 2022
Tortorella should offer the Flyers a needed spark

This past NHL season so many local fans tuned out the Flyers and for good reason. The Flyers were 25-46-11 for 61 points, the fourth-lowest total in the NHL. 

Only Montreal, with 55 points, Arizona (57) and expansion Seattle (60) had fewer points than the Flyers.

There were plenty of empty seats at the usually sold-out Wells Fargo Center.

According to ESPN attendance figures, the Flyers averaged 16,540 fans per game, which was 84.7 percent capacity. The Flyers were 18th in the NHL in attendance but 21st in capacity.

The bulk of the general sporting public simply didn’t follow the team. Even die-hard Flyers fans were challenged to stay interested.

This was the second year in a row that the Flyers missed the playoffs.
The last time the Flyers missed the postseason in consecutive years was from 1989-1990 through 1993-1994 when they were out five straight seasons.

This past season the Flyers struggled in many areas, including the goal-scoring department. There were only two, 20-goal scorers, James van Riemsdyk, who had 24, and Cam Atkinson, who had 23.

Carter Hart, who turns 24 in August, is considered among the top young upcoming goalies, but he was inconsistent for a second straight year.

It didn’t help that the defense wasn’t too effective. The Flyers allowed 298 goals and had a minus-87 goal differential.

So with that as a backdrop, the Flyers needed to do something to not only improve the team but get the fan base interested.

So the hiring last week of successful but stormy coach John Tortorella was not surprising.

Maybe it was a little surprising that Tortorella wanted to coach a rebuilding team. Tortorella, who served as an analyst this past season for ESPN, said in his opening press conference that he always respected the Flyers organization and had hoped to coach them one day.

It appears that the Flyers and Tortorella don’t feel that this is a total rebuilding job, but good luck convincing the fans.

Either way, Tortorella, 64 on June 24th, is now head coach of his fifth NHL team.

In his first head coaching job, he won the 2004 Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he coached for 6.5 seasons, beginning in 2000-2001.

He then coached the New York Rangers for five seasons, the Vancouver Canucks for one and the Columbus Blue Jackets for six, through the 2020-2021 season.

His best year with the Rangers was 2011-2012 when New York advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, only to lose 4 games to 2 to the New Jersey Devils.

In Columbus, his best season was 2018-19, when the Blue Jackets swept Tampa Bay in the first round, only to lose to Boston, 4-2 in the second round.

His career postseason record is 56-64. That is what Tortorella will eventually be judged on, whether he can not only get the Flyers into the postseason but have them contend for a Stanley Cup.

At this point, it appears light-years away, but one thing Tortorella should do immediately provides instant energy for what has been a life-less team.

He is known for sparring with the media, and in the past hasn’t spared his players when dosing out public criticism.

For now, he will offer some much-needed relevance to the franchise. 

There is no question that Tortorella will almost certainly make an immediate impact, but can it be sustained?

At the least, he makes the Flyers more interesting and after the last two seasons, that is probably a good start.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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