John Tortorella will be 64 next month and still burns with a desire to win. After sitting out last season, multiple reports indicate the Philadelphia Flyers are set to announce him as their next head coach.
According to Kevin Weekes, the deal to become the Flyers bench boss is for 4 years and around $4 million.
Torts, as he’s affectionately known (depending on which player or member of the media you ask) is the 14th all-time winningest coach in NHL history. In 1383 games he has a record of 673-541-37-132. His postseason record is 56-64 winning a Stanley Cup in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning and two Jack Adams Awards along the way (2004, 2017).
John Tortorella is back
Tortorella was last with the Columbus Blue Jackets, where he spent six seasons before stepping down at the end of the 2020-21 campaign. He left as the franchise’s all-time leader in coaching wins with 227.
Although he is replacing interim head coach Mike Yeo, there’s a little poetic justice here for Torts. Yeo stepped in after the Flyers fired Alain Vigneault. A slight twist of fate as it was AV who replaced Torts with the New York Rangers in 2013-14.
Although it could’ve gone different as legendary Rangers captain Mark Messier revealed on an episode of the Up In The Blue Seats podcast.
“I had been asked to coach after they let John Tortorella go but under one condition,” Messier revealed. “Everybody within management had to agree that it was a good idea for me to be the next coach.
“It became apparent that they went a different direction, which was fine because I was the one who said ‘you guys should maybe make sure that you’re all in agreement that you want me to coach the team’,” Messier said. “When it didn’t happen I was completely fine with that.”
The Rangers were rumored to have at least considered Tortorella before hiring Gerard Gallant last summer.
Torts and accountability
This is now Torts’ fifth NHL team. He started as an interim head coach with the Rangers after the team fired John Muckler during the 1999-2000 season. He went on to coach the Tampa Bay Lightning followed by a longer stint with the Rangers. Torts then made a 1-year pit stop in Vancouver, and finally Columbus.
One thing that Torts will bring to the Flyers is accountability. While there are handful of critics to his style of coaching, many of his former players love him because he treats everyone equally.
That was on full display in his final season in Columbus. A tumultuous relationship with his young star Pierre-Luc Dubois that led to a shouting match during a game and a benching.
Dubois was soon traded to the Winnipeg Jets for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic.
“I coached Luc like I coach every other player here,” Tortorella explained to his critics. “Like I’m gonna coach Laine when he gets in here. The best thing I can do for a player is to be honest with them everyday.”