Quick Bit: Tortorella most recently coached the Blue Jackets from 2015-21, the fourth different team he has coached in his NHL career.
John Tortorella, one of the most polarizing coaches in the NHL, has interviewed to return to the bench as a head coach. And one NHL insider thinks he’s a “legitimate contender” to land the position.
Tortorella confirmed earlier this week he had interviewed with the Flyers to become the team’s next head coach. Tortorella parted ways with the Blue Jackets following the 2020-21 season and has been an analyst with ESPN since then. The Flyers fired Mike Yeo following the conclusion of the 2021-22 campaign.
According to NBC Sports Philadelphia, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman told the NHL Network that he thinks the Flyers view Tortorella as one of the best candidates for the position.
“I think they’re still very much in the process,” Friedman said. “I absolutely believe Tortorella is a legitimate contender there, though. I think they are looking for a veteran, demanding presence. He certainly qualifies under all that criteria. I think that’s exactly the kind of person they’re looking for.”
Tortorella has a reputation as an outspoken coach that has made him a polarizing figure in the NHL. He has often taken criticisms of players and the media public, and is regarded as having a tough-love approach to the players on his teams.
But he has produced results throughout his coaching career. He was brought in midway through the 2000-01 season to steer the Lightning and took over 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 was the best in the division at 36-25-16-5 and made the playoffs. The next year, the Lightning went 46-22-8-6 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 19-25 playoff record. He was fired after the 2012-13 season and joined the Canucks for a single-season stint. 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 out of Vancouver and missed the playoffs.
The Blue Jackets hired Tortorella at the start of the 2015-16 season. Following a 34-33-8 showing in his first year in Columbus, he led the team to the playoffs the following season, the first of four straight trips to the postseason. 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, delivering Columbus its first playoff series win in franchise history.
Tortorella and Blue Jackets mutually agreed to part ways following the 2020-21 season, during 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 does not have a losing record with any of the four teams he has coached, and overall has a 673-541-37-132 record. His 673 wins rank 14th-most all-time, and are second-most among Americans only behind Peter Laviolette’s 717. He has twice been named the Jack Adams Award winner for best coach (2004 and 2017).
Over the past two years, the Flyers have struggled mightily, missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1992-93 and 1993-94. During these past two campaigns, Philadelphia has allowed the second-most goals in the league at 499, according to Stathead.
Tortorella’s teams historically have been stout defensively. The Blue Jackets allowed the 14th-fewest goals in the NHL during his six years in Columbus, per Stathead, and only the third-fewest during the four straight years in which they made the playoffs. The Rangers allowed the second-fewest goals in the NHL while he was the head coach in New York.
“I do think that John Tortorella is somebody who appeals to a chunk of the Flyer organization at least,” Friedman said. “I think when you think about some of the longtime Flyers, like Bob Clarke, who still have influence in that organization, I think Tortorella is exactly the kind of person that they believe in. Anybody who discounts Tortorella’s candidacy for this job would be foolish. I think he has a legitimate shot at it.”
Originally found on Sporting News Read More