(UPDATED) Flyers to Hire John Tortorella as Next Head Coach

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: Below is the story I published yesterday regarding the Flyers hiring John Tortorella. An official announcement is expected tomorrow (Friday).

This update is to provide more information about the outside agency that the Flyers hired to support their coaching search.

According to one league source and confirmed by a source within the Flyers organization, the company that the Flyers hired is The Coaches Agency, whose founder and president is Neil Glasberg.

According to their website, “The Coaches Agency is a search firm designed to help you find the best coach and/or team manager for your opportunity. Period.”

The Coaches Agency lists the Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks as clients.

Glasberg also owns PBI Sports and Entertainment. According to its website, PBI is a representation agency for Pro Coaches, NCAA Coaches, Front Office management personnel across all team sports, as well as entertainment artists.

This means Glasberg also serves as an agent representing certain NHL coaches and has a stable of assistants and other coaches throughout the hockey world for who he finds work and negotiates deals and contracts and gets paid by his clients as well.

That’s a good deal. Get paid by teams hiring you to help them find their next coach and then get paid by the coach or manager if you get them a job. Just dodge the potential conflicts of interest, and all is hunky dory.

Glasberg’s coaching clients include current Penguins coach Mike Sullivan and current Rangers coach Gerard Gallant. He also has former New Jersey Devil assistant (and former Flyer) Mark Recchi in his stable as well as former Flyers interim coach Scott Gordon, among others.

Tortorella was previously a client of Glasberg (he’s not now), while in Vancouver and part of his time in Columbus (and possibly prior, although I was unable to confirm that).

Publicly, Glasberg doesn’t seem to want NHL teams to only hire experienced coaches:

If you click on the link you’ll see there are eight coaches listed. Two of them have already landed with teams (Bruce Cassidy, Tortorella) and it seems very likely that Trotz (Winnipeg?) and DeBoer (Dallas) are likely going to be employed again soon.

As for Tortorella, sources said he was at Voorhees today to meet everyone and iron out his new contract which I’m told will be for four years and somewhere between $15-17 million.

NOW… the original story, published Wednesday:


After an exhaustive search, the Flyers have offered their head coaching job to veteran and former Stanley Cup winner, John Tortorella:

I was able to get confirmation of Weekes report late Tuesday night. The Flyers offered the position to Tortorella, who works with Weekes at ESPN as a studio analyst, and he accepted in principle pending the final negotiations of the contract.

An official announcement could come as early as Wednesday.

Tortorella, who turns 64 later this month, won a Stanley Cup as head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2003-04 (his team eliminated the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals that season in seven games), and he is a two-time Jack Adams Award winner as the best coach in the NHL, most recently in 2016-17 as coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Tortorella has coached parts of 20 seasons in the NHL for four different teams – Tampa Bay, the New York Rangers, Vancouver and Columbus. He has made the playoffs 12 times, but has lost in the first round six of those 12 times.

His career regular season record is 673-541-37-132 with a points percentage of .548. In the playoffs he is 56-64. His 673 career wins ranks him 14th all-time among NHL coaches, and the second-most among American-born coaches behind former Flyers coach and current Washington Capitals bench boss Peter Laviolette.

Tortorella will become the 22nd individual to coach the Flyers since their inception in 1967.

While Tortorella brings experience, a fiery persona, an edge and must-watch press conferences to the Flyers, he is mostly well-liked by his players. Former Blue Jacket and current Flyer Cam Atkinson was openly campaigning for him to come to Philly.

Here are some of his better press conference battles over the years:

Torts the first choice?

By all accounts he was not. According to multiple sources from both within and outside the organization, Tortorella was second on the Flyers wish list behind only recently fired New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz.

According to two Flyers sources, Trotz, who started narrowing down his potential landing spots Monday, turned down an offer from the Flyers early on Tuesday, which led to the Flyers pivoting to Tortorella.

Trotz and the Flyers were very engaged, and the sides met multiple times virtually and at least once in person. It appears Trotz was more impressed with the Flyers than many had thought he would be, and using Dave Scott’s “blank check” mantra for the whole offseason, the Flyers contract offer would have allegedly made Trotz the highest paid coach in NHL history (I don’t have exact figures, but one source indicated that the offer was for more than $7 million each year).

The Flyers didn’t hesitate and immediately reached out to Torts once Trotz declined. But, is it possible that Torts was not a favorite of GM Chuck Fletcher?

Who led this coaching search, anyway?

Normally, a general manager and a small staff of his assistants are responsible for hiring a head coach. Many times, GMs and coaches are linked together – as in, if one goes, you can bet the leash gets shortened on the other as well.

But this coaching hire may be different.

Again, according to multiple sources, Scott hired an outside agency to provide expert consultation in search of the next bench boss.

This might seem crazy, or outrageous at first, but the reality is, more and more teams in professional sports are turning to these outside executive search agencies to help fill various positions to attempt to find the perfect blend of fit, culture and success.

While no one source would indicate which agency was hired (believe me, I tried very hard to get the name of the agency, and I will update it if it is given to me after this story is published), I was told that the agency was heavily involved in the process, much to the chagrin of Fletcher and the hockey operations staff.

One source told me Fletcher wasn’t as high on Tortorella as others were and would have preferred a different kind of coach, however, the search committee identified his leadership and accountability skills as being so off the charts that he would be an ideal fit for the Flyers situation.

Additionally, a former NHL player who is close to both Tortorella and the Flyers said that Fletcher likely doesn’t want Torts as a coach because Torts is notoriously tough on general managers when it comes to the kinds of players he wants and doesn’t want to coach.

A third source said Fletcher will put on the right public face and say all the wonderful things about Tortorella and how much he’s going to enjoy working with him, but the reality is that Fletcher is very skeptical of the situation.

Which begs to question, why wouldn’t Fletcher and his team be on board with the outside perspective that Scott was willing to pay for and provide to ensure that the next hire was the right fit for the organization? Especially when these agencies have glowing track records of helping pro sports franchises.

For example, the agency Sportsology, who I have confirmed is not the agency hired by the Flyers, clearly states that it works with global leaders in sports to transform organizational behaviors.

Among the franchises who have hired Sportsology in the past are the San Francisco 49ers, the Los Angeles Rams, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Atlanta Falcons and, yes, the Philadelphia Eagles.

Sportsology even has a testimonial on their homepage from Eagles general manager Howie Roseman.

So if there’s a disconnect between owner and hockey ops, why are the people in place still in their jobs?

This isn’t a question I ask lightly. And it’s not necessarily a knock on either Scott’s business approach to ensure no expense is spared to getting the best outcome nor is it a knock on Fletcher and his hockey operations management style, but if the two don’t mesh, why keep it together?

If you are Dave Scott, why would you continue to want a GM in place who you felt you needed to provide support on a coaching search?

And if you are Chuck Fletcher, why would you want to continue to manage a team in which you feel your hands get tied and you can’t conduct business in the way you feel most comfortable?

Again, these are questions, not accusations.

The Flyers are entering a very, very critical month ahead. The 2022 draft, the red hot offseason trading period (I’ve heard the Flyers have checked in with Chicago on the availability of 24-year old sniper Alex DeBrincat) and the opening of free agency will help begin to shape the future of the Flyers franchise.

Tortorella has enough cache to keep fans interested for a bit into the new season, but they need to see change and improvement soon there after, or else they are going to continue to bail on the team in droves, leaving more and more empty seats in a newly renovated Wells Fargo Center.

So, if there is a hard and fast plan to “aggressively retool” this franchise and the money that Scott has already provided to bolster hockey operations department and will apparently continue to provide as part of his “blank check” in an effort to make the team successful again, then as long as both sides are sympatico, moving forward shouldn’t be a problem.

But, with so many people whispering so many things and it seeming more and more like there isn’t a symbiotic relationship there and that frustration brews from both sides – whether it’s hockey ops thinking there is ownership overreach or it’s some in the organization expressing concern that the leadership level on the hockey ops side isn’t up to snuff and that Fletcher is too fickle as a GM and has a hard time making decisions on his own without considerable input from multiple people, then maybe another change, one that is more substantial, is needed as well.

Then again, maybe these whispers are overblown – being provided by individuals who are frustrated themselves about how things have played out for the Flyers over the course of the past couple of seasons, and they are trying to leak information out there just to create chaos while everything is, in actuality, hunky dory at the top of the food chain.

However, my experience tells me that when these little drips start coming out of the faucet, more often than not the big picture isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

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