This Organization Sucks; Torts Isn’t Helping That
Sometimes, I write on here with the objective of being informative or insightful. Other times, I write with the primary objective of being entertaining or the vaguest bit humorous. Lately, I’ve found that I can’t write about the Flyers with either of those tones in mind.
I have no information that I want to share. I think about the team, the direction of the franchise, and the state of the game of hockey frequently. I have thoughts that I’d like to share…but all of those thoughts are shoved into the back of my mind, because of my unending frustration with the Flyers as a franchise.
So, I’m going to write this article with an entirely different idea in mind. This is a rant. Nothing more. If you don’t want to read it, I don’t blame you. Click off the page right now.
If you want to yell at me in the comments for being negative, by all means, fire away. If I have to rant, I can see where you might also have to rant.
With that disclaimer out of the way… deep breath.
This franchise is rotten. It’s all ridiculous. Everything about the Flyers is a circus act, and a tiresome one at that. I’m constantly told that this is actually what righting the ship looks like. I don’t see a ship being righted.
I see a ship being steered into the ocean, and all of its passengers are getting ready to take the plunge into icy waters because they don’t want to admit to themselves that they’re sinking.
And that soon, they’ll be drowning.
Now, we all know that the Front Office is absolute garbage. Chuck Fletcher is a mess. He has absolutely no vision for the future of this team. He has sporadic thoughts, and maybe loosely formed principles…butreally, he’s playing the lottery with every move that he makes.
He doesn’t know that his moves will work, and nobody does 100%… but he doesn’t even firmly believe that his moves will pan out well. Because he’s out of idea.
He doesn’t know how to salvage this without plunging the franchise into a rebuild that might take half a decade.
Maybe when he got here, bright eyed and bushy tailed, he had plans and visions. But as the years wore on, as misfortune aligned with malpractice, the situation became too much of a clusterfuck for him to handle. The bright eyes are gone.
No more bushy tails. Right now, Chuck has smoke rising out of his erratically spiked hair because he stuck his finger in the wrong electrical socket. Everything has blown up in his face.
And this is where we are.
Ownership doesn’t have a plan, because they aren’t actually interested enough in the sport of ice hockey to formulate one. So they won’t fire Chuck, even though they know very well that he needs to go. They just don’t want to take the plunge, because they can’t be bothered to do the legwork of finding his heir.
It’s so easy for Chuck to spin fantasy tales of a 2 year turnaround, because these owners are laughably easy to snooker. They won’t hold their GM to any of his promises.
Instead, they’ll send a mealy mouthed letter out through their golden calf head coach–John Tortorella–to whisper more sweet nothings in the hopes that they can con gullible fans out of their money in exchange for a product that is laughably horrific, with no reasonable outlook of improvement on the horizon.
And really, do you know what pisses me off the most? It isn’t the GM, actually. It isn’t even ownership. Do you know why? Because everyone, literally everyone, understands that they absolutely suck. I’d be preaching to the choir, and I can only do so much of that before I get tired of saying the same things.
What really pisses me off is the fantasies that John Tortorella is here to turn everything around, and in fact, that he’s actively done it!
The team is laughably bad. The only reason they’re “better” than last year is because Carter Hart went from a below league average goalie to a top-8 goaltender in the NHL. Or because Sam Ersson has saved more goals above expected per 60 minutes in his starts than Juuse fucking Sarros.
We’re about to put Felix Sandstrom on waivers because he’s apparently been horrifically bad. But has he? His -6 Goals Saved Above Expected aren’t great. They’re bad. But those numbers can’t fully account for the horrendous nature of certain defenses.
Then account for the fact that he’s always playing the second half of back to backs where the team is just naturally going to be worse.
All of a sudden, you have to arrive at the conclusion that Felix Sandstrom hasn’t been actively bad and costing the team games. No, in fact, he’s just been an average goalie.
The games where Felix Sandstrom starts is what the Flyers would look like if Carter Hart wasn’t so absurdly brilliant. They’d look like a team completely unable to win games, because that’s what they are.
The goalies have been terrific, and they’ve carried this rotted corpse of a hockey team from being the 4th worst NHL team to being the 8th worst.
Which has accomplished nothing, in the long run, except taking the Flyers out of reasonable contention for a top-5 pick that might have helped turn the direction of this franchise around.
So what has John Tortorella turned around, exactly? Has he made games more watchable? That’s a ridiculous standard, first of all. Shame on anyone for holding him to a completely subjective standard, but is it really him making the Flyers more watchable? Or is it brilliant goaltending that doesn’t exist in Felix Sandstrom?
Has he installed a culture of accountability? Has he made his players work hard?
What a clownish question.
Shame on all of these people insinuating that professional athletes don’t work hard at their chosen sport. It’s ridiculous. It’s asanine and clown like behavior. These people have dedicated their lives, since they were children, to their craft.
They get drafted at 18 fucking years old, and they spend years before that cultivating the requisite skills that get them drafted.
Of course they’re in the position they’re in because they are ridiculously talented. Every NHL player is.
But they’re also in this position because they’re tireless workers. Anomalies. The 1% of the 1% in work ethic, even the ones you hate is that way.
If they aren’t that way, chances are, they’re out of the league. No matter how talented they are. Nail Yakupov was stupidly talented, and he’s a bottom sixer in the KHL at the age of 30.
But you think Travis Sanheim doesn’t work hard? You think Joel Farabee doesn’t work hard? You think Kevin Hayes–and boy does he piss me off–but do you think he doesn’t work hard? You’re deluding yourself.
Maybe one of them doesn’t. Maybe two of them don’t.
But this organization hired John Tortorella under the moronic belief that he was going to come in and make everyone work hard, and suddenly we’d have a team ready to compete with the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning. It was an unforgivable example of idiocy.
A clownish move made by an organization who knows nothing but clownish moves.
And how has that move worked out?
Well, we’re benching everyone and their mother for shallow and petty reasons.
Morgan Frost gets demoted to the 4th line for… checks notes… not scoring on a high enough percentage of his chances. Then, when it turns out he’s not best suited to lining with Nic Deslauriers, he gets benched in the game where his family was going to watch him play. Because we have a petty dinosaur of a coach who likes bullying players under the guise of “accountability.”
Travis Sanheim gets healthy scratched when his family was going to watch him play in Calgary, because he has failed to carry along the utterly unplayable Tony DeAngelo and then had a bad game while playing his off-side on a pair with Ivan Provorov. Again, he’s “challenging” a player.
To which I say: bullshit.
Ivan Provorov produced equally horrific results next to the utterly unplayable Tony DeAngelo, and has never ever had to play his off-side. He has never been healthy scratch, even during some comically horrific stretches of this season. But because Torts likes the “vibes” he gets from Provorov, or because Provorov “gets how to be a pro”… he gets a pass. In perpetuity.
For that matter, Tony DeAngelo has been a “healthy scratch” in one game and Torts–as well as the entire media–ensured us that it essentially wasn’t a healthy scratch. It was mostly a culmination of a foot injury bothering him and family matters.
Other than that one game, DeAngelo has been endlessly horrific on 5v5, and he never gets “challenged.” Nobody ever asks him for “accountability.”
He quarterbacks the worst power-play in the league, and nobody asks for more out of him. Even though the only value he brings to a franchise nowadays is his ability on the power-play. Instead, he just keeps chugging along.
Because Torts likes his attitude.
If Torts likes your vibe, you get to bypass all that talk about “accountability.”
So, is it any surprise that eventually, players wouldn’t like getting kicked in the dick anymore? Is it any surprise that they’d throw their hands up in the air and say, “Fuck you, fix this.”
Because that’s exactly what Joel Farabee did.
Don’t get me wrong. Joel Farabee has played like ass this season. There are a myriad of reasons why he may be playing like ass, but I’ll tell you what isn’t going to make him play better: Torts accusing him of not giving a shit about his job.
Maybe you don’t like this part of the rant. Maybe it sounds like Keith Yandle when he defended his buddy Kevin Hayes. It just might. But you know what? Even broken clocks are right twice a day.
If you continuously have to “challenge” players even at the 60 game mark of the season, there’s a fucking problem. And it isn’t just with the players. They aren’t all lazy and listless. They don’t all coast when their entire life was dedicated to making it to the NHL.
One or two guys doing that? Sure, I believe it. EVERYONE? Give me a break.
You know what, maybe I shouldn’t even be targeting Torts to begin with. Maybe Torts is doing what he was brought in to do. Sure, it’s incredibly dumb. But maybe he’s just fulfilling a mandate, and the mandate itself is incredibly dumb.
After all, Chuck Fletcher gave Torts the assignment of coming in and “seeing who fits,” so maybe I shouldn’t be mad that we’re now alienating players because they don’t work well in a particular coach’s system.
Any reasonable organization knows you find a coach to implement a system that plays to the strength of your players. But the Flyers threw their hands up in the air. They refused to evaluate their players, and determine what their strengths were. So they had no idea what to minimize or maximize in a system of play.
They had no fucking clue what they were looking for when they hired Torts, so they asked Torts to help them find it. And that is sad.
Now you’re going to end up trading players–not because they don’t fit your team–but because your coach doesn’t like their vibes. You’re a prioritizing over players. How absolutely fucking moronic can this organization be?
Maybe they won’t trade Farabee. But they will trade people. They should. But they should trade people because they don’t fit in with the rest of the team, not because they don’t work well with a coach. That’s utterly absurd.
Coaches are a dime a dozen in the NHL. Not a single damn one of them is all that special. And the ones who are just a little more special than most? They’re the ones who understand that.
But again, maybe I shouldn’t hate the player. This idiotic Front Office hired Torts to be the savior. They paid for the ticket, and now we’re all taking the fucking ride.
“Oh, but Derek, I heard anonymous reports that Chuck Fletcher actually didn’t hire John Tortorella!”
Who the fuck did? Dave Scott directly? Okay, fine, he’s an idiot too. He doesn’t trust his GM to hire a coach, and he doesn’t trust him to give him public statements… but he won’t fire the guy?
That doesn’t make any sense at all. Which means it isn’t true. Nothing true is that fucking illogical. So I’ll tell you what is true.
John Tortorella was brought in as a marketing ploy to dupe uncritical fans into believing that the direction of the franchise is changing. And by the time you all figure out that isn’t true, it’ll be three years later and maybe some generational talent will fall into their laps drafted 15th.
Or more likely, they’ll find some other coach who will get glowing media coverage themselves for 3 years while the actual players are hardly different at all and the team continues to absolutely suck!
Because everyone wants to keep the same hashed together, incoherent core of players under the ridiculous belief that “we have everything–or almost everything–that we need.”
We don’t have everything we need.
We have almost nothing that we need.
We don’t have competent ownership. We don’t have a competent front office. Coaches are irrelevant, but our current one has decided to make himself some deified figure and exalted royalty.
Our players are completely overmatched. For one, they’re utterly starving for star power. And for two, they don’t all have a coherent vision for how to play the damn game. Because there’s no coherence to how the players fit together.
They have nothing.
And Joel Farabee should get the hell out of here while he still can. Everyone should be running for the exits and shouting “FIRE!”
Sound the fucking alarms.
This organization is a disgrace from top to bottom.
Listen to The Liberty Yell
Mandatory Credit: Johnny Ulecka