The Flyers' coaching search has yet to yield what exactly the ideal candidate is for this job, but two attractive candidates with big résumés are right there in the mix and either would satisfy the splash factor that this franchise seemingly desperately needs.
With John Tortorella and Barry Trotz, their names alone mean a great deal in the hockey world. One would instantly change the identity of the Flyers, regardless of what players are on the roster.
Flyers Pre and Postgame Live analyst Scott Hartnell played for both coaches at completely different points in his career. Hartnell played under Tortorella after being traded to Columbus by the Flyers.
He spoke glowingly of his fiery former coach.
"He’s a very demanding coach, a very honest coach," Hartnell said. "He wants you to put in the effort, the work in the summer, the work in training camp, the work throughout the whole season.
“He wants you to play the game a certain way and he’s very demanding on that. If you don’t play that, you’re not going to be happy and you probably won’t play as much as you’d like."
There have been a couple of flaws that have plagued the Flyers over the last few years — accountability and the thought that they haven’t been hard to play against.
Either Tortorella or Trotz would change both of these, but it’s the former where Tortorella would shine according to Hartnell.
“Where the Flyers are at right now, from an outside looking in, they need someone to keep everyone accountable, they need discipline," Hartnell said. "And I think that would go a long way."
Trotz coached Hartnell when the goal-scoring winger was a teenager, so it’s certainly a different perspective. However, the common thing with Trotz-led teams is what he gets out of his players. And the Flyers had plenty of up-close-and-personal looks at that with the Islanders over the last four seasons.
“He’s a demanding coach, as well. I don’t think he has the personality of Tortorella or the interview prowess of Tortorella, but he’s a demanding coach," Hartnell said. "Very, very good teacher, high hockey IQ to get the best out of everyone.
“Barry is a really, really respectable man in the hockey world. ... Just very system-oriented, very driven, as well.”
Trotz won a Stanley Cup in Washington with the likes of Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie and John Carlson, just to name three from that Capitals roster. But it was his work with the Islanders, a team that lacked a superstar goal scorer, that perhaps is most impressive. That coaching quality of Trotz could work well with this Flyers team, which admittedly has a talent deficiency.
“Twenty years ago, too, in Nashville, there was nobody and we pushed and pushed to make the playoffs," Hartnell said. "We pushed hard to be in every game. He’s a very defensive coach.
“If you look at what he did with Mat Barzal, his first year in the league, I think he had a bunch of points but they were out of the playoffs. The next year, he kind of reels him in, plays more of a team game and then they’re a couple of wins away from going to the Final in consecutive years.”
Hartnell said either of his former coaches would be a great choice for this Flyers team. But he had an interesting tidbit about the man affectionately known as "Torts."
“The way Tortorella held everyone accountable — the veterans or the young guys — I wish I would’ve had him at 21, 22 years old," Hartnell said. "Trotz was good, I started when I was 18, but the penalties, maybe a missed backcheck here or there, nobody told me I couldn’t do it because I was scoring goals and stuff.
"Where Torts, it doesn’t matter. He sat Cam Atkinson, one of our leading goal scorers, put a bunch of guys on the bench. ... You have to play that team game and he gets the most out you."
If the Flyers are to choose one of these two, it would immediately change the face of this proud franchise.
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