Tortorella expresses regret over his Sunday post-game actions

John Tortorella

      NEW YORK – It isn’t too often Flyers coach John Tortorella expresses regret over something he said (or didn’t say) during a post-game media briefing, so when he did on Tuesday morning at Madison Square Garden, it caught some by surprise.

      After Sunday night’s 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers, Tortorella was asked about goaltender Felix Sandstrom’s performance. Sandstrom hadn’t looked his best on Florida’s first and third goals.

      In response to the question, Tortorella shrugged twice, perhaps indicating indifference, did not say a word and left the podium after just 42 seconds, which might have been his shortest session of the season.

      Less than an hour later, Tortorella made it known he should have been a little more forthcoming and actually requested the team’s public relations department inform the media he should have been a little more respectful toward Sandstrom.

      Fast forward to Tuesday morning and Tortorella reiterated the sentiment at the pre-game skate. This came in response to a question about how the coach planned to split the time between starting goalie Samuel Ersson and Sandstrom the last 10 games of the season.

      “I made a terrible mistake with you guys,” the coach said in reference to the media regarding the Sunday night matter. “Someone asked about ‘Sanny’. . .my body language was wrong.

      “What I should have said to you was – and I tried to communicate with you guys after – he (Sandstrom) tried. Things happened this year that put our goaltending into a little bit of a state of flux. Sanny did not deserve that. You had a perfect right to ask the question. He did not deserve that from me. It was wrong. So how we go about that with him, we’re just not going to get too far ahead.”

      Sandstrom was called up after a sequence of events which started with Carter Hart’s departure from the team due to a legal situation involving an alleged assault on a woman by five Team Canada players a number of years ago. Following Hart’s exit, the Flyers brought up Cal Petersen, but he wasn’t too impressive. That led to Sandstrom’s call-up.

      Sandstrom has played five games so far with a 1-2-0 mark, a 3.87 goals-against average and a rather unimpressive .823 save percentage.

      >Praise for Poehling

      Tortorella was asked about the recent play of center Ryan Poehling. The coach has been pleased not only with his efforts but also the Flyers’ decision to sign him for another two seasons (AAV $1.9 million).

      Poehling started the season on a fourth line which mainly had a checking role. But Poehling has played so well, Tortorella has increased that job definition. He’s registered some crucial points in the second half of the season.

      “He deserved it,” the coach said. “It’s very simple, he deserved to be playing. He just worked himself up the lineup. All through merit of how he’s played.”

      Tortorella was particularly impressed because initially Poehling just signed a one-year free-agent contract with the Flyers. But general manager Daniel Briere saw how well Poehling was playing and he wanted to lock him up early rather than let him go to free agency and take his chances.

      “He bet on himself,” Tortorella said. “Tremendous signing by Danny to keep him in the organization. So he’s reaping some of the rewards of the work he’s put into it. He’s a very important guy for us.”

      Going into Tuesday night’s game, Poehling had registered nine goals/24 points.

      >Where Flyers stand

      While the Flyers have done well against some of the NHL’s top teams this season, Tortorella said they still have a ways to go to be considered in the same sentence.

      “That’s the important part of this year right now,” he said. “We’re not in the realm of some of the top teams that we’re playing. That’s certainly not criticizing our team. We’re not there yet. We’re not close.

      “But to have them compete in certain types of situations – these are questions we’re going to have to answer as we keep on going into next year and the following year. To be playing these types of games at this time of the year is really important, for management, coaches, the whole organization. I think our guys have handled themselves really well.”

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About Wayne Fish 2426 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.