John Tortorella hasn't been behind the bench for a regular season hockey game as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, but he is already bringing his usual heat.
Throughout his career, Tortorella has carried the reputation of a fiery coach who is not afraid of speaking his truth. From putting the media on blast to trying to fight an opposing coach, the NHL is a more entertaining place with the 64-year-old in charge of a team.
Now, less than a week before the Flyers start what should be a disappointing 2022-23 season, Tortorella has already produced a highlight-reel soundbite when talking to the media on Thursday about how a coach’s job might not be as hard as it seems.
“I think people make a big deal out of systems,” Tortorella told The Athletic's Charlie O'Connor. “There might be slight details, you may have a different philosophy of man-on-man defense versus a zone defense. But it isn’t a huge change. …I don’t think the game’s that difficult. I think we make it more – it’s not that hard to think how to play. It’s such a reactionary game, and I think that’s the most important thing, to get out of their way half the time as a coach.”
Tortorella must have some incredible job security, because publicly saying that your chosen profession isn’t that difficult is certainly something.
The Flyers head coach continued, bringing up his past while also saying how lucky he is to get a player to pay attention for just a couple minutes.
“Our systems in this game are just not that difficult,” Tortorella said. “And I’m gonna say it to you again: I was that guy. I had a book, and it was like, ‘OK, if the puck’s there, you go here. If the puck’s moved…’ It was like I’m programming you.
“I feel totally opposite about the game right now. Especially with today’s athletes, and the attention span of an amoeba, as far as just getting a couple minutes out of them. And I mean that. You can’t give them that. So what outweighs the X’s and O’s is the will. That’s what you coach, is the will.”
Tortorella is certainly known to be a motivator and squeezes more juice out of a roster than a whole lot of other coaches, but it is just classic Torts to come out and say that your players have the attention span of a unicellular organism.
If this is how the Flyers season with their new head coach is starting, then we cannot wait to hear what Tortorella has to say a couple months in and Philadelphia finds itself losing more games than it is winning.
The regular season starts next Thursday with the Flyers hosting the New Jersey Devils.
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