Tortorella sells motivation over tanking as Flyers face Yotes
The Flyers take on the Coyotes in a battle of horrible hockey teams who have no readily apparent interest in winning the hockey game, from a long term team building perspective.
The truth of that fact–the idea that the Flyers have very little stakes embedded in any of their games beyond draft status–has been one that I’ve harped upon since November. It makes these games, on their own, incredibly difficult to talk about. After all, besides a few side quests, the results of the game have no meaning.
So whenever possible, I attempt to use the game as a platform to talk about something deeper. Something more meaningful than whatever nonsense, fake-ass hockey game the Flyers are subjecting me to now.
And today, John Tortorella made that incredibly easy during his pre-game media remarks. You can view the full remarks here.
The part I’m primarily interested in is a quote he had about how the fans’ belief that tanking is in order might motivate an athlete.
“I think you need to look for different motivations, I think that’s when you become your best, when you’re always looking for motivation. That’s certainly one, I would have to think, for a professional athlete. For people to say, ‘Oh, s—, this isn’t a good team, just continue to lose.'”
Yes, Torts. I agree. That is certainly motivation for a professional athlete. They are absolutely sufficiently motivated. Here’s the problem: they suck. And there ain’t a damn bit of motivation on God’s green earth that will cure them of that particular ailment. They are bad.
Motivation is not going to fix it. I have never seen a hockey team–in world history–go from bottom-5 to top-5 through the sheer power of motivation.
Maybe, there are one or two guys in a locker room who have untapped potential. Hell, I’ll amend, there’s almost certainly at least one guy like that in a locker room. And maybe motivation is a part of unlocking that.
But it isn’t a strategy for rebuilding a team. And that’s the issue.
He doesn’t believe, evidently, in strategies to build a team.
He later went on to say: “We talk about rebuilding, all the language, all the articles written about what this team is, what it’s supposed to be, people pissed off, tank, all this stuff that’s being talked about — all players want to do is win,” Tortorella said. “That’s how they qualify themselves. To get a few wins in a row, it’s good for them.”
Now, Torts is more or less right. A lot of athletes do qualify themselves–do define their whole existence–by the games they win in their sport. But that’s where the cruelty lies in what we’re doing.
All those guys who just want to win? They don’t get to win on a consistent and meaningful basis. They don’t get to play in real hockey games with some actual stakes. They just have to go through the motions, and maybe get an occasional 3 game winning streak as some sort of perverted dopamine hit. That’s what happens when you keep older players on through a rebuild.
And I don’t mean older as in 35. I mean “older” as in guys in the prime of their careers who could be winning hockey games by fulfilling a role on another team, built to compete, but are toiling away here instead.
Is it good for them to win a few games?
Maybe in the same way that a drug addict feels good after a snort of cocaine. But just like the cocaine? It’s fleeting, and ultimately counterproductive.
You want a connection of this rant to our game tonight against the Arizona Coyotes?
Here’s one: Jacob Chychrun. Jacob Chychrun requested a trade from the Arizona Coyotes, why? Because he wants a chance to win.
The Coyotes are doing their best to squeeze every bit of value they can before they make a deal, and that makes complete sense to me.
What are we doing? What are we doing with the players on our roster who just want to win in the NHL, and have their games mean something?
Are we trading them? No, instead, we’re hiring a coach to attempt to play mind whisperer with them, and motivate their teammates into not sucking.
The Coyotes are honest with themselves about where they’re headed as a franchise.
We are not.
And until we are start getting real uncomfortably honest? It won’t get better. It will get worse.
Who cares? The Flyers don’t play meaningful hockey games.
But if you are actually curious, it’s mostly the same except Nick Seeler is in for Justin Braun. And Cam York is back to playing as Ivan Provorov’s partner.
Admittedly, I do care about that.
Carter Hart is back in net after clearing concussion protocol.
And I just want to say I can’t wait to write that he is in net when this team is playing meaningful hockey games.
I’m ranting about this so thoroughly, because this is a 24 year old goalie with his peak on the way.
He is an incredible talent, and he does not deserve to have his career wasted by a team who is not serious about giving him a chance to win as soon as possible.
And furthermore? This team doesn’t deserve a talent like him if they aren’t willing to do whatever it takes to give him a roster fit to win as soon as possible.
Hockey will be played. Some horrific team will win out over another atrocious hockey team, and the days will toil on.
But if I had to guess?
4-2 Coyotes, we’ve won too many games in a row and the other shoe is about to drop.