Tortorella hired as a coach by the Philadelphia Flyers

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By DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Reporter

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Flyers have hired John Tortorella as their new coach, hoping the fiery veteran can help them win their first Stanley Cup championship since 1975.

The hiring was confirmed Thursday by a person with direct knowledge of the decision who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it had not been announced. The official announcement was expected on Friday.

Tortorella, who turns 64 next week, coached Tampa Bay to a Stanley Cup title in 2004, and he also coached the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks. He was fired in May 2021 after six seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Tortorella is the Flyers’ sixth coach in the past 10 years and he will try to revitalize a dormant franchise that has won only one playoff series since 2012. The Flyers finished with a 25-46-11 record this season under Alain Vigneault and Mike Yeo and were last in the Metropolitan Division.

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The Blue Jackets went 227-166-54 under Tortorella, including a franchise-best 50-24-8 in 2016-17. But the wheels let go during a terrible 2020-21 season (18-26-12).

Tortorella is the second most successful American-born coach in NHL history. He’s known for his casual temper and demanding, no-nonsense style of coaching, and he’s clashed with his share of players over the years.

Flyers winger Cam Atkinson played under Tortorella in Columbus. He said that at the end of the season, the Flyers were “a pretty soft team” and that a coach like Tortorella could help strengthen any franchise.

“I think it all starts with practice. You practice playing,” Atkinson said in April. “Especially when I turned professional, I learned that from John Tortorella. He was brilliant in that aspect. … I think as we approach next year, we have to find a way to have more courage, a little more jam, more “F you” to our game, on both sides of the puck, in our territory, defending our goalkeeper and in their crease.

Flyers president David Scott said in January that he doesn’t think the franchise needs a lengthy annual rebuilding plan and that there is enough proven core to make the team a winner. Scott said he would give Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher “a blank check” to fix the Flyers.

The Flyers are pinning their hopes on Travis Konecny, Joel Farabee, Travis Sanheim and goaltender Carter Hart as key players moving forward. The Flyers last made the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010 and haven’t won a championship since back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975.

Tortorella is 673-541-37-132 over nearly 20 seasons and became the new coach among a slew of candidates including former Washington and Islanders coach Barry Trotz. Tortorella is just 56-64 in the playoffs with six first-round outings.

Tortorella worked this season for ESPN as part of his studio coverage.

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