John Tortorella has been hired as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, the team announced on Friday.
“I am very happy to bring in John to be the next head coach and voice behind the bench of the Flyers,” said Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher. “John demands the best out of his players every single game. He is a Stanley Cup Champion and has a lengthy track record of both regular season and playoff success. During the interview process we discussed a number of factors that are crucial to bring this team immediate success and it became clear to me that his vision and style makes him the right person to restore a winning environment to our locker room.”
Reportedly a four-year deal in the $16 million range, the soon-to-be 64-year-old Tortorella replaces Mike Yeo, who led the team on an interim basis after Alain Vigneault’s firing in December.
Tortorella spent this past season working as an NHL analyst on ESPN after six years coaching the Columbus Blue Jackets.
🙏🏻 for the @NHLFlyers players!
— Brandon Dubinsky (@BDubi17) June 17, 2022
After a number of interviews done by Fletcher, Tortorella found himself in the final mix of names, along with Barry Trotz, who was fired by the New York Islanders in May. Trotz reportedly turned down the Flyers’ job as he seems likely to land with the Winnipeg Jets.
Plenty of work to do
The Flyers went 17-36-7 under Yeo, which likely played a big factor in Fletcher’s process of evaluating head coaching candidates. They finished with the NHL’s worst power play (12.6%), a bottom-10 penalty kill (75.7%), the second-fewest goals scored (210), and the sixth-most goals allowed (294).
In January, Comcast CEO Dave Scott stressed the team was not in a rebuild and that they wanted to “aggressively re-tool.” A high-end talent infusion would be good, plus some of their younger players taking big steps in their development would help the organization begin moving forward towards being a playoff team again.
Tortorella has a track record of making teams better and while expectations may not lead to a complete turnaround for the 2022-23 season, improvements across the roster will go a long way. He can be demanding of his players, but Tortorella does have a fan in the dressing in Cam Atkinson, who played under him in Columbus.
“From my very first conversation with Chuck, I knew this was the right fit for me and I believe in the direction this team is heading,” Tortorella said. “Having faced the Flyers for several years, I know firsthand how tough of a city Philly is to play in and I look forward to being on the right side of the bench on opening night in front of such a loyal and passionate crowd of Flyers fans.”
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.