The Philadelphia Flyers have hired John Tortorella as their new head coach and it didn’t take long for reactions to flood social media.
While he is the second-winningest American head coach in NHL history and a two-time Jack Adams Award winner, Tortorella is especially known for a fiery attitude that can rub players the wrong way. He also got into it several times with reporters when he was the bench boss of the New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Former Ranger and Blue Jacket Brandon Dubinsky sent his thoughts and prayers to the current members of the Flyers.
The relationship between the forward and the head coach lasted almost eight years, as Dubinsky played four seasons with the Rangers and four with the Blue Jackets. While Dubinsky was quick to throw shade, he had some of his most productive seasons under Tortorella. For example, during the 2010-11 season, Dubinsky logged a career-high 24 goals and 54 points.
Former winger Matthew Barnaby was not only one of the toughest NHL players on the ice from 1992 to 2007, he was never the type to bite his tongue. He sounded off after the Tortorella announcement, profanely stating on his social account that he would have hired at least six head coaches before signing Torts to a deal.
Barnaby played under Tortorella for the end of the 2000–01 season in Tampa Bay and part of the following campaign before he was traded to the Rangers. In 29 games under Tortorella in 2001-02, Barnaby didn’t put up a single point.
Current Flyers forward Cam Atkinson came to Tortorella’s rescue when he responded to his team’s announcement of the coach’s addition.
Atkinson played under Tortorella for many seasons in Columbus, starting back in 2015 when the fiery head coach was hired. He recorded his best season guided by Torts in 2018-19, racking up 41 goals and 69 points as the Blue Jackets made it to the second round of the postseason for the first time in franchise history.
The 33-year-old forward was traded to the Flyers at the same time as Tortorella’s contract was not renewed in Columbus. They will reunite in Philly, to Atkinson’s delight.
Atkinson could therefore have a positive impact on the Flyers’ dressing room ahead of Tortorella’s first coaching session. As he takes over in Philadelphia, let’s hope that none of his new players feel the same way as Dubinsky and Barnaby.
The Flyers’ mascot Gritty also appeared quite excited about Tortorella taking over behind the bench, though it’s easy to imagine how the relationship might quickly deteriorate.
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