Preparations for the 2022-23 NHL season are nearing rapidly. The Flyers will open rookie camp in less than a week. On Sept. 21, the team will start training camp ahead of its Oct. 13 season-opener.
The most intriguing acquisition of an underwhelming offseason was not on the ice, but behind the bench. Veteran head coach John Tortorella is taking over a team that will have plenty of familiar faces from last season, but is certainly fragile after two downright pitiful performances in the previous two seasons.
Back when he was hired in June, Tortorella expressed a sense that the locker room was “splintered.”
“I can sense that the locker room’s a bit splintered. It’s not together,” Tortorella said to NBC Sports Philadelphia in June. “That’s my No. 1 goal right now. We can’t do anything right on the ice unless we’re together in that locker room, and that’s a very important part of the first piece of work I need to do.”
It’s been roughly three months since Tortorella made those comments, and after an offseason where the Flyers largely sat out free agency and essentially returned the same team as last season – hold for the acquisition of Tony DeAngelo and signing of Nicolas Deslauriers – it doesn’t seem like Tortorella’s impressions of the locker room have changed.
Tortorella was a guest on NHL Network Radio on Sirius XM on Wednesday and expressed just where he thinks the Flyers locker room is at the moment.
“As far as the room, I have major concerns about the room. I’ve spent the summer going back and forth, I live in New York, I’ve been going back and forth to Philly trying to relocate there, but spent some time in the office talking to players, talking to personnel, talking to [Flyers general manager] Chuck [Fletcher], and I have major concerns about what goes on in there. Before we even step on the ice, situations and standards and accountability in the room is forefront. You can’t get squat done on the ice until you get your room straightened out, and I think we have a little bit of work to do there.”
Tortorella also stated in the interview that he’s “in no rush” to name a captain.
Obviously, the underwhelming offseason was met with critical response from the fan base. The fans made their voices loud and clear in a survey on front office trust by The Athletic and the team is promoting special ticket offers in an effort to get more fans in the building after attendance took a significant hit last season.
Additionally, the Flyers season opener against the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 13 won’t even be on traditional television. Rather, it is an ESPN+/Hulu exclusive that is only available through streaming.
As frustrating as the thought of a locker room with major concerns may sound at this junction of the offseason entering training camp, it is refreshing to hear Tortorella’s brutal honesty. He’s clearly aware of the situation he faces and how the franchise is perceived, and his goal seems to be uniting the team and trying to defy the odds stacked against them. That is certainly an even greater uphill battle if the locker room lacks a standard and accountability.