MAKING SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING AT ALL: TORTORELLA VS FLETCHER

BY DAVID MCLEOD
On December 1st John Tortorella conducted an interview that was widely reported as highlighting a great divide in philosophy between Tortorella and the Flyers General Manager, Chuck Fletcher.

It is well established that Chuck Fletcher has and will continue to «retool» the Philadelphia Flyers, as he believes the Flyers can be competitive in the Metro Division with the current core roster, excluding minor tweaking. Fletcher has to believe that; he is four years into his tenure and any change of course now would be the final nail in his coffin with the Flyers.

Fletcher admitting he steered the franchise in the wrong direction by «aggressively retooling» over the past four years, instead of fully rebuilding around Carter Hart and other 25 year old and under Flyers, such as Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, and Joel Farabee, will not happen. Fletcher cannot adjust his philosophy now and sell off his veterans for a full rebuild, regardless if it is the best course for the franchise, for two reasons.

One, individuals in positions of power will rarely throw themselves on the sword and admit they were wrong. Is their expectation that Fletcher will tell his bosses he made the wrong call to retool, four years into his job? No.


Two, the contracts he extended to Sean Couturier, Rasmus Ristolainen, Nicolas Deslauriers, the disastrous addition and salary cap complications of Ryan Ellis, and to a lesser extent, the parallel flip of Jakub Voracek for Cam Atkinson. Those are moves Fletcher cannot get out from under. Atkinson may be the only movable player right out of that group right now, but given his recent injury, age, and contract, the return may not be much. A rebuild is simply not in the cards under Chuck Fletcher.

The debate about Fletcher and Tortorella having differing opinions about the state of the franchise and what has to be done for the franchise to become successful, came as the result of the following interview. I believe Tortorella's verbiage has widely been misinterpreted, as many people believe Tortorella stated the Flyers needed a rebuild.



At no point did Tortorella state the Flyers needed a rebuild, in the traditional sense. Traditionally, the term rebuild implies a franchise selling off their veterans for draft picks and young prospects. That type of rebuild signals to your fan base the franchise is mortgaging the team's potential for mediocre success and realizes it is not built to realistically compete for the Stanley Cup on their current trajectory.

When Tortorella used the terms «build, built, and rebuild» he was speaking about the philosophy of the team and how the current culture must be sculpted and «built». He stated you just cannot keep doing things the same way, year after year, and expect different results. A change in philosophy. A change in how players approach the game. A change in expectations. A change in work ethic. A change in how you play the game. Those are the changes Tortorella is stressing and speaking if, when he says the Flyers need to be rebuilt from the ground up.

Much like Chuck Fletcher isn't going to dig his own grave, is there a reasonable belief that John Tortorella would throw his boss under the bus two months into his first season coaching the Flyers? Would John Tortorella come out and state Fletcher chose the wrong path for the Flyers? He wouldn't and he didn't.

Tortorella‘s press conference was incorrectly perceived by many, as contradicting Fletcher. Whether or not Tortorella agrees with the moves and path Fletcher has established for the Flyers, he will never state his opposition publicly.

Tortorella did not state the Flyers need to rebuild; he stated the Flyers need to be rebuilt! The difference is considerable.
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