John Tortorella, one of the NHL’s most polarizing coaches, has been interviewed to return to the bench as head coach. And an NHL insider thinks he’s a “legitimate candidate” to land the job.
Tortorella confirmed earlier this week that he had interviewed with the Flyers to become the team’s next head coach. Tortorella parted ways with the Blue Jackets after the 2020-21 season and has since been an analyst at ESPN. The Flyers fired Mike Yeo after the end of the 2021-22 campaign.
According to NBC Sports Philadelphia, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman told the NHL Network that he thinks the Flyers consider Tortorella to be one of the best candidates for the job.
“I think they’re still in the process,” Friedman said. “I absolutely believe Tortorella is a legitimate candidate there, though. I think they’re looking for a veteran, demanding presence. He certainly meets all of those criteria. I think he’s exactly the kind of person that they are looking for.”
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Tortorella has a reputation as an outspoken coach that has made him a polarizing figure in the NHL. He has often criticized players and media audiences, and is considered to have a tough approach towards players on his teams.
But he has produced results throughout his coaching career. He was brought in midway through the 2000–01 season to lead the Lightning and took on full-time coaching duties the following season. The team finished 24-47-6-5 in that 2000-01 season, but in the 2002-03 season Tampa Bay led the division at 36-25-16-5 and made the playoffs. playoffs. The following year, the Lightning posted a 46-22-8-6 record and won the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Tortorella left the Lightning after the 2007–08 season with the most wins as an American head coach at 239 and joined the Rangers midway through the 2008–09 season. He spent six seasons with New York and guided them to a 171-118-1-29 record in the regular season and a 19-25 record in the playoffs. He was fired after the 2012-13 season and joined the Canucks for a single season. In Vancouver, he was suspended during the season for an altercation with a coach, angered the team’s starting goaltender and prompted him to seek a trade to Vancouver and missed the playoffs.
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The Blue Jackets signed Tortorella at the start of the 2015-16 season. After going 34-33-8 in his freshman year at Columbus, he led the team to the playoffs the following season, the first of four straight playoff trips. In 2019, the Blue Jackets became the first team to sweep the Presidents’ Trophy winning team, the Lightning, in the first round of the playoffs, giving Columbus its first playoff win in franchise history.
Tortorella and the Blue Jackets mutually agreed to part ways after the 2020-21 season, in which Columbus went 18-26-12 and finished last in the division. He is the winningest coach in Blue Jackets history.
In his coaching career, he has no losing record with any of the four teams he has coached, and overall he has a record of 673-541-37-132. His 673 wins rank 14th all-time and second among Americans only to Peter Laviolette’s 717. He was twice named winner of the Jack Adams Best Coach Award (2004 and 2017).
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The Flyers have struggled over the past two years, missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1992-93 and 1993-94. Over the past two seasons, Philadelphia has allowed the second-most goals in the league with 499, according to Stathead.
Tortorella teams have always been strong defensively. The Blue Jackets have allowed the 14th-fewest NHL goals in his six years in Columbus, according to Stathead, and only the third-fewest in the four consecutive years they have made the playoffs. The Rangers allowed the second-fewest goals in the NHL while he was head coach at New York.
“I think John Tortorella is someone who appeals to at least part of the Flyer organization,” Friedman said. “I think when you think of some of the longtime Flyers, like Bob Clarke, who still have influence in this organization, I think Tortorella is exactly the kind of person they believe in. Anyone who dismisses the candidacy of Tortorella for this position would be stupid. . I think he has a legitimate chance to do so.”