After ramping up the interview process for their next head coach following the conclusion of the 2021-22 season, the Flyers have narrowed in on their guy.
The Flyers are “close to a reaching a deal” with John Tortorella to be the team’s next coach, although no deal has been signed as of yet, a source told The Inquirer on Wednesday.
ESPN reported late Tuesday night that the Flyers had offered the position to Tortorella.
Tortorella, 63, has 20 years of experience has an NHL head coach, which includes a Stanley Cup championship with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. He has also served in the role with the New York Rangers, the Vancouver Canucks, and most recently the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Since parting ways with the Blue Jackets at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season, Tortorella has served as an ESPN analyst. If hired, he would return to the bench as the 23rd head coach in Flyers franchise history.
In 1,383 regular-season games, Tortorella has accumulated 673 wins, 541 losses, 37 ties, and 132 overtime losses for a .548 points percentage. Tortorella’s 673 wins rank 14th in NHL history.
He won the Jack Adams award as the NHL coach of the year in 2003-04 and in 2016-17 with the Rangers and the Blue Jackets, respectively. Tortorella is one of only eight coaches to have won the award at least twice.
Flyers right winger Cam Atkinson played under Tortorella for six seasons with the Blue Jackets (2015-21). At his exit interview following the Flyers’ historically bad 25-46-11 season, Atkinson acknowledged his former coach for helping him understand the importance of practice.
“I think it all starts with practice,” Atkinson said. “You practice how you play. Especially when I turned pro, I learned that from John Tortorella. He was great in that aspect. There just wasn’t a lot of practice time. It was hard to mold and gel as a group when you’re playing so many games because you can watch video. You can’t really get on the ice and do it.
“I think going into next year, we need to find a way to have some more grit, some more jam, more ‘[expletive]-you’ to our game, on both sides of the puck, in our crease, defending our goalie and in their crease. I thought we were a pretty soft team this year in my opinion.”
In his previous stops, Tortorella was well-known for cultivating a culture of accountability among his players. He didn’t shy away from calling them out in the locker room, nor did he hold back when confronting members of the New York media.
Tortorella is one member of a pool of candidates that the Flyers considered for the position, which also included former New York Islanders bench boss Barry Trotz.
The Flyers, who fired Alain Vigneault on Dec. 6, have been officially in the market for a coach since announcing that interim coach Mike Yeo would not return in that role on May 3.