VOORHEES, N.J. – In professional hockey, how a player comports himself ranks right up there with how on-ice skills are executed.
With the way the Flyers are trying to emphasize this point, the word “accountability” should be placed on a sign and hung from the locker room door at the Wells Fargo Center.
At Monday’s end-of-season press conferences for head coach John Tortorella and interim general manager Daniel Briere, the idea of taking responsibility for one’s own actions involved much of the discussions.
Although the Flyers did not make the playoffs for a third straight season – the second-longest drought in team history — progress was made, according to Tortorella.
The coach, who just completed his first year with the team, has been trying to establish what he calls a “standard of play.” Some people might refer to it as changing the culture but Tortorella is not a big fan of that word.
Tortorella wants to make it clear a large part of this reconstruction has to do with attitude.
There were some players who might not be totally on board with this approach but that’s not going to slow the train once it’s left the station.
“Understanding what it means to be a pro, (the) standard of practice,” Tortorella said at the Flyers Training Center. “Quite honestly, what accountability means. It’s a great word. But holding people accountable, you find out about people.
“And I have found out about people, as far as people who simply don’t know what the word means. Some players just don’t want to be held accountable. Or just can’t handle it. That’s building a standard. How hard we played, I think that’s the starting ground of building a standard. There weren’t many nights we didn’t play hard.”
In trying to decide which players might be here next season and which ones might not, accountability could play a key role.
“We’ll communicate with ‘Torts’ and his coaching staff, it’s not something that’s just going to be done upstairs or downstairs,” Briere said. “We’re all going to collaborate together on that.
“Torts is really clear, there are things that are important to him. How players carry themselves, how they play, how they act. That’s going to be a big part of it. If you look at how things were done or ran, accountability was a big thing throughout the organization.”
Just ask Tony DeAngelo, Kevin Hayes, Travis Sanheim and even leading scorer Travis Konecny. All took turns riding the pine because, in part, they fell short in this department.
Overall, many of the players did make some progress.
“I think that’s part of the progress that you saw this year,” Briere said. “There’s definitely a big chance when it comes to a certain standard and you can use the word accountability for it.”
Briere said offseason evaluations of players will be a joint effort between the management team and the coaching staff.
“There’s going to be a lot of discussion,” Briere said. “There’s a lot of good people upstairs evaluating players but the coaches, they see something different. They deal with the players a few feet away when the game is happening. . .some of the stuff that we don’t see sometime in the press box.
“The information that we get from the coaching staff is extremely important as well.”
Tortorella does put a considerable amount of stock in how hard his team played this season. They didn’t take many nights off. A lot of the losses were the product of inexperience or maybe a lack of talent at some positions.
“I’m really encouraged with that,” he said. “The accountability factor as far as what’s expected, as far as play, as far as being a pro, practice habits, we’ve still got some work to do. Not all of them but a number of players.”
>Changes in the wind?
While Tortorella wouldn’t put a number on it, he did concede there will be some new names here next year.
“This happens to all teams who are trying to get better,” Tortorella said. “There are people who need to move on because of where we are in our process.”