Flyers News & Rumors: Tortorella, Tanking, Point Streak, Comcast

The off-ice storylines continue to drive the buzz around the Philadelphia Flyers after the announcement of Dan Hilferty as the upcoming replacement for Dave Scott as the franchise governor. However, the team has suddenly caught fire with a 5-0-2 record in their last seven games on the backs of young players ready to take the next step in their NHL careers. Fans might be more concerned about NHL Draft Lottery odds, but head coach John Tortorella doesn’t want to hear it.

Tortorella on Tanking

“Stop sending me mail about tanking. There’s no such thing with professional athletes (as) tanking. They would not be able to live with themselves if they went home and did something to try to disturb an outcome of a game. It is asinine. Just don’t bring up that subject. It’s wrong,” Tortorella said on March 24.

The fixation on Connor Bedard and other talented prospects has driven conversations surrounding the NHL all season. The Flyers never deliberately moved serviceable NHL players with the intention of finishing lower in the standings. They’ve instead prioritized a new standard for performance under a new head coach looking to reinvigorate a dormant franchise. 

John Tortorella Philadelphia Flyers head coach
John Tortorella, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“There are hockey gods too. They’re there. You go about your business the right way each and every day. You look yourself in the mirror, and you say ‘Did I give everything?’ You live with the circumstance. Eventually, if you do things the right way, you’re going to come out on the right side of it,” he continued.

The Flyers lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in the first game of a seven-game homestand on March 14. They reeled off five wins in their next six and lost in overtime against the high-powered Carolina Hurricanes in the other. They fell behind against the Ottawa Senators on March 30 in their first game back on the road, but they rallied to force overtime and extend their point streak in a 5-4 loss.

Related: Flyers Overhauling Organization with New Power Structure

Wins aren’t helping lottery odds, but the Flyers didn’t have a realistic chance of finishing in the league’s bottom four before the streak began. If they finished with the fifth-best lottery odds, they’d have an 8.5% chance of landing the first-overall pick. The point streak likely means they’ll finish ahead of the Montreal Canadiens and the Arizona Coyotes to land the seventh-best lottery odds at 6.5%.

While Tortorella correctly stated that players and coaches will not deliberately lose, the same logic doesn’t apply to front offices. Organizations like the Chicago Blackhawks that actively prioritize tanking accept the risk of a long list of variables beyond lottery luck, and the Flyers (for better or for worse) have never been willing to sacrifice their competitive edge to do that.

Comcast Corporate Shuffle

The organization announced on March 27 that Dave Scott will retire from his position as governor of the Flyers. Dan Hilferty became the CEO of Comcast Spectacor on Feb. 14 when Scott was moved to chairman. He will now also take over the position of chairman on April 17 and governor on July 1. The Flyers will miss the postseason for the third consecutive time in 2022-23, and they should welcome the opportunity to move into a new era.

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Daniel Brière, who took over as the interim general manager (GM) on March 10, will almost certainly stay in the position on a full-time basis after the season. They will now begin the search for a full-time hire as the President of Hockey Operations. Ray Shero, Shane Doan, Chris Pronger, Eric Lindros, Ray Whitney, Ed Olczyk, and Robert Esche are among the candidates to fill the open position.

Changes in the power structure of the organization could do the Flyers some good considering their recent string of unsuccessful seasons. They have relied on the same voices for decades with senior advisors Bobby Clarke, Paul Holmgren, and Bill Barber carrying the torch as franchise heroes and Hall of Famers. New blood might finally push them closer to a new era of success.

Young Flyers Power Streak

The Flyers sit 29th in the NHL with 2.70 goals per game in 2022-23. However, they’ve scored 30 goals during their current seven-game point streak for a 4.28 average. They might still lack the superstar talent of the Stanley Cup contenders, but the emergence of younger players has created some positivity in a bleak situation in Philadelphia.

Owen Tippett suddenly became the best offensive player on the team after Travis Konecny went down with an injury on Feb. 20. His hat trick against the Buffalo Sabres on March 17 kickstarted the 5-0-2 streak. He has shown incredible transition speed and an improving game as a power forward in 2022-23. He is second on the Flyers with 23 goals behind only Konecny, who has 27.

Noah Cates Philadelphia Flyers
Noah Cates, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Morgan Frost has three multipoint games during the streak. The final eight games of the season will be important for Frost to prove himself to Tortorella and the front office after a season with some high points and a lot of low points. Cam York has stepped into a role as a featured defenseman on a blue line crowded with underperforming veterans.

Joel Farabee went from Jan. 9 until March 17 without a goal. The win against Buffalo at the Wells Fargo Center kickstarted a four-game goal streak. He has seven points in seven games during the team’s point streak after a 24-game stretch with no goals and two assists.

Noah Cates has earned a high level of respect from one of the most demanding coaches in the sport. His value goes beyond his seven points in a seven-game stretch. Tortorella continues to praise the rookie’s poise, hockey sense, and work ethic. He even mentioned Cates as a player who deserves consideration for the Selke Trophy because of his ability to play the toughest minutes against top competition. The 24-year-old played four years of NCAA hockey, and he was able to hit the ground running at the NHL level. While he won’t win the Selke in 2022-23, he has established himself as an important player for future seasons in Philadelphia.

Loose Pucks

Carter Hart has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury. He is still considered day-to-day. Felix Sandström has stopped 27 of 29 shots in a win over the Canadiens and 41 of 46 shots in a loss against the Senators.

Tortorella did not coach the game in Ottawa behind the bench. He took a look at his team from up top with Brière in the press box. Associate coach Brad Shaw took his place at ice level. Tortorella also sat out a preseason game and allowed Lehigh Valley Phantoms head coach Ian Laperrière to run the team from the bench. He also announced that he will not name a captain for the 2023-24 season.

The Flyers signed prospect Emil Andrae to a three-year entry-level contract that will begin in 2023-24. The defenseman emerged as a highly-anticipated prospect in the organization with four goals and four assists in seven games as the captain of Team Sweden at the World Junior Championship in 2022. He will finish the 2022-23 season with the Phantoms.

The Flyers Charities Carnival took place at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday, March 26. The efforts support local families impacted by cancer, the growing inclusivity of diverse participants in the sport of hockey, and sustainability and environmental improvement.

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