Tortorella looks forward to working with Hayes, Atkinson

Flyers head coach John Tortorella
      Flyers new head coach John Tortorella hails from Boston, as does team center Kevin Hayes.
      Cam Atkinson, a protégé of Tortorella’s during their days together in Columbus, played for Boston College, as did center Patrick Brown.
      And then there’s Joel Farabee, who competed for Boston University.
      You get the picture. These guys kind of all speak the same Beantown hockey language, even if they don’t have “pahk the cah at Hahvahd Yahd’’ accents.
      At Friday’s media Zoom call, Tortorella acknowledged the relationship he already has with Atkinson.
      But the one player he’s really anxious to work with is Hayes, who endured a nightmarish season in 2021-22 – including the death of his brother, Jimmy, along with three abdominal operations and a battle with a serious body infection.
      “Kevin was one of my first calls when I got to Philly,’’ Tortorella said. “I’m trying to meet with him, whether it’s Boston or Philly. I don’t know him that well but I hear great things about the type of person he is. He’s very likable. He’s had some family situations along the way here.
      “I’m really interested in talking to Kevin because Kevin is one I’m anxious to work with. I think there’s more there. I think he’s a huge piece to the puzzle up the middle of the ice for this organization. He’s one I’m going to try to talk to right away. I’m not going to be joking, I’m going to be interested to what he has to say. I hear he’s a tremendous guy and I want to try to help him.’’
      Hayes did bounce back to have a strong finish last season and was a finalist (runnerup) for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for the NHL player who exhibits sportsmanship, dedication and perseverance.
      “I want to try to get him to another level,’’ Tortorella said. “I’ve watched him from afar and there’s more there. It’s my responsibility to try to get that out of him.’’
      Atkinson actively campaigned for Tortorella’s hire.
      “(At the start in Columbus) Cam was stubborn and I like his stubbornness,’’ Tortorella said. “I think players of that quality and what he has to do because of the size he is (about 5-foot-8, 176 pounds), you have to have that stubbornness. We went back and forth and it took us awhile because I asked for more. I sat Cam out a few times but I look at that guy now and what he’s become, how he’s grown as a leader and a person, I rely on him. I couldn’t be prouder of him.’’
            Total candor
           “I’m going to coach hard but I’m always going to be fair with these guys,’’ Tortorella said. “Total honesty from me. They’re going to know where they stand everyday. I think that enhances communication. That’s how we’re going to approach it.’’
      >Coaching staff outlook
      Tortorella said both he and general manager Chuck Fletcher have lists of potential assistant coaches to fill out the staff.
      “We want a guy who’s going to help us on our power play,’’ the coach revealed. “I think a lot of teams look for that guy. I know Chuck and I were throwing names around when I was with him the other day.’’
      >Demanding training camp
      The coach said he’s going to hit the ground running when it comes to the September training camp. There will be no passengers and an honest competition for jobs.
      “I’m going to coach that team hard right away,’’ he said. “It’s going to be a very difficult camp, a high volume of skating. They will be told about this during the summer. We’re attacking it. I’m going to go at it as quickly as I can to try to make us the best we can be.’’
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About Wayne Fish 1782 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.