In the event that the National Hockey League were to select the recipient of the Jack Adams Award for the best bench boss in the league for the current season, the Philadelphia Flyers coach John Tortorella would unquestionably be the recipient.
As far as this writer is concerned, their relationship with Tortorella has always been a little bit tense and unpredictable. On the one hand, Tortorella has been praised for his combative approach to the coaching fraternity; but, we witness a guy who attacks on the media without any justification. Tortorella is someone who takes positions in the media when he is in between coaching stints, so it would be one thing if he honestly couldn’t bring himself to appreciate what the role of the media is in the bigger sporting picture. However, this is someone who does accept jobs in the media.
Having said that, if you are going to criticize the Flyers coach for his shortcomings, you have to give him credit for guiding Philadelphia to where they are now, which is second place in the extremely difficult Metropolitan Division, just four standings points behind the New York Rangers, who are the best team in the league.
In point of fact, when the staff members of THN were asked to give their predictions for the most successful National Hockey League teams this season, the majority of them chose the Buffalo Sabres, with the Ottawa Senators coming in second place in that category. Both teams are now in the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, and both are having more difficulty than was anticipated. Of all the voters, not a single one chose the Flyers.
During the offseason that just ended, Philadelphia general manager Daniel Briere made it abundantly obvious that his team was in the beginning stages of a huge reconstruction. This was the motivation behind their exclusion. The ownership of the Flyers showed their support for Briere’s long-term goal for the franchise, and Flyers supporters were aware that the team might experience some difficulties in the future as they recruited younger players with greater competitive ceilings.
Tortorella and the Flyers, on the other hand, have performed exceptionally well in comparison to what was anticipated. Having said that, there is still the matter of the second half of the regular season playing out, and there is definitely time for Philadelphia to make a mistake and end up outside of the Stanley Cup playoff picture by the time the season comes to a close in April. Nevertheless, we are well past the point where we can consider the Flyers to be a small sample size.