Regardless of outcome, Tortorella praises Flyers’ effort this season

John Tortorella.

      Regardless of how the Flyers’ season was about to end, coach John Tortorella had nothing but positive things to say about his team heading into Tuesday night’s season finale with only a slim hope of making the playoffs.

      Before the morning skate at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J., the coach made it a point to state his team never “quit” despite its recent eight-game winless streak.

      He also emphasized this season can be deemed a success from a progress standpoint. That, he maintained, was the ultimate goal – giving his young players a real chance to experience meaningful games.

      “I’m proud of the team, how they’ve handled themselves,” he said. “That was my message prior to the Ranger game (last Thursday). It was ‘let’s just be proud of ourselves and get this to Tuesday, see where we go.’

      “Even through some of the bumps we’ve had at the end of the year; they’ve stayed together and they’ve tried to figure it out. Now they get to play a game 82 and that means something.”

      Just about every player improved over last year’s non-playoff finish. With the Flyers in a rebuild mode, that’s important.

      “Even when things were going really good this year, we have not come off of we’re rebuilding here,” the coach said. “Deadline (trade marker in early March) showed everybody (the Flyers made only a couple significant deals). We’re rebuilding. So for them to take some punches here and there and some ebbs and flows, some momentum swings, they should feel good about that.”

      It’s been said many times but deserves repeating: The Flyers far exceeded anyone’s preseason expectations.

      “I think they should feel good about what they’ve accomplished,” Tortorella said. “This is in front of us. A couple weeks ago, the playoffs were right there for us. I wanted them to take the next step since we’re here. Look where we’re at. I wanted them to realize that.”

      Looking ahead, the Flyers would appear to be in a very good place in the upcoming years. They have a young nucleus of scoring forwards, including Travis Konecny, Owen Tippett, Joel Farabee and Tyson Foerster. Their top defense pair of Travis Sanheim and Cam York averages 25 years of age and their goaltenders are right around the same bracket.

      Tortorella likes the way his players stayed with the goal until the very end.

      “No matter what happens tonight, I’m excited about how they handled themselves, about some of the growth,” he said. “Excited about where we go in the future. That’s not going to change in my mind.”

      Just to get to this moment should be considered a monumental achievement.

      “To get it to this level, to play a full season of 82 games and have every game mean something is a step in the right direction,” Tortorella said. “And that’s all we’re looking for, to keep on with the process and get our steps going that way.”

      Handling adversity like an eight-game (0-6-2) winless streak can actually have its benefits on the road ahead. Same thing with all the positive attention the team received in overachieving.

      “That’s good for them,” the coach said. “Some of the scrutiny that was brought on to the team. Not in a good light. I heard the word ‘quit.’ Not a chance. There wasn’t a second those guys quit. For them to hear it, for them to be questioned, all of it. That’s part of the process. You don’t complain about it.

      “You go about your business but you learn to handle certain situations. That’s really important for bssically a pretty young group out there.”

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About Wayne Fish 2446 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.