A virtuoso in the art of “telling it like it is,” Flyers coach John Tortorella has gained a reputation for his blunt, no-holds-barred criticism of everyone from journalists to the players in his own locker room, a brooding, at times hostile dynamic that has made his interviews of the must-watch variety. During Tuesday night’s game against the Blue Jackets (who he coached from 2015-21), Torts stopped by for an in-game visit with ESPN, where the veteran bench boss went scorched earth on the Flyers, calling out his team for its lethargic play in the first period.
“We suck,” said Tortorella with the surgical efficiency of legendary Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, well known for stonewalling the media with his terse responses. “We haven’t forechecked. We haven’t done anything as of right now.”
Jeez, Coach. Tell us how you really feel. Not much for positive reinforcement, Tortorella has never been the sugarcoating type, cutting through the BS with the cold, calculating precision of a Michelin-star chef wielding a freshly-sharpened steak knife. That could be why he’s coaching his fifth team since 2008 (venom-tongued disciplinarians in his mold tend to wear out their welcome), though to Tortorella’s credit, the Flyers played a more competitive brand of hockey in the latter two periods, netting four goals in that span. The Flyers would ultimately fall in overtime, extending their losing streak to four games.
Coming off a disastrous 61-point campaign in 2022—their fewest in a non-COVID or lockout-shortened season since 2006—the Flyers were always going to be a work in progress, making their regression to the mean inevitable, following up an encouraging 4-1 start by losing seven of their last nine games including four in a row to divisional opponents. It won’t get any easier for the slumping Flyers with the Bruins, owners of the NHL’s best record at 14-2, on tap Thursday night at TD Garden, where Boston has won 13 straight dating back to last season.