It would appear as though the Flyers saved their annual 10-game losing streak for the end of this season. They’re up to seven in a row right now, two of which were in overtime, and they’ve fallen out of the playoff race, joining the Capitals and Penguins in chasing the Red Wings and Islanders for the final two spots. Naturally, some people are OUT on Torts, as would be the case with any coach currently bombing in April:

What’s interesting is that I think some of the anti-Torts sentiment is influenced by two rumors and/or conspiracy theories floating around the Flyer-verse.

They are:

  1. Danny Briere and Keith Jones didn’t hire Torts and would prefer to bring in their own coach.
  2. Torts is interested in a front office gig and ready to step down from coaching.

Beginning with number one, yes it is true that Danny B and Jonesy did not hire Torts. He was the last remnant of the Chuck Fletcher era, and already in place when the “New Era of Orange” began. We all wondered whether Torts was the right guy to lead a rebuild, and that question lingers to this day. Therefore, you’ve got a portion of people who believe that he’s gone at some point regardless of wins and losses, ready to be replaced by someone like Craig Berube, for instance, who is currently out of a job. This is not the same Chief who was a nascent coach in the post-Peter Laviolette era. We’re now talking about a Stanley Cup winner with more than seven seasons under his belt.

The second thought, I believe the genesis is a recent podcast appearance from former Blue Jackets GM Doug MacLean:

Torts moving into Flyers management? For who? For what? Again, he was here before Comcast restructured, and transitioned out of the Dave Scott and Val Camillo era. They’ve got a GM and President of Hockey Ops in place. They could create any kind of bullshit role they want, if they do indeed like Torts in that capacity, but there’s nothing outside of that podcast appearance to suggest Torts moving into the front office has any kind of legs.

Your evaluation of Torts in 2023 and 2024 is based on whether or not you are a goalpost mover. Do you set expectations at the beginning of the season, or adjust throughout? Were you one of those people who jumped the gun when the 2016 Eagles started 3-0, or did you keep the goalposts where they were, considering Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz were both in their first seasons?

For this particular Flyers team, success was NEVER contingent on making the playoffs. Not a single pragmatic Flyers fan (they do exist) felt like Torts needed to get this team into the postseason. This was always supposed to be a 2016-2017 Sixers type of season, a bridging of the gap between woefulness and competition. A first glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. You’ve re-branded and begun to rebuild, so you look for blocks to set the orange foundation. We enter a rebuilding season with an open mind and no expectations.

Considering the lack of high-end offensive talent on this roster, and the fact that the #1 goaltender was charged with sexual assault, the fact that Torts even has these guys in playoff contention in April is nothing short of a miracle. Yes, they are falling apart at the wrong time, but they never should have been here to begin with. He’s used every trick in the book, pushed every button to get to this point, and while some moves have worked and others haven’t, it’s certainly not for a lack of trying. In my mind, if they didn’t win a single game down the stretch here, he’d still be closer to the Jack Adams than the unemployment line.

The question with Torts is and always has been whether or not his coaching style is sustainable through a rebuild and into competitive seasons. Is he going to burn these guys out? Is he going to burn himself out? He can coach Garnet Hathaway and Ryan Poehling, but can he manage someone like Nikita Kucherov or Connor McDavid? It’s one thing to turn fourth line grinders into overachievers, but hard working, blue collar guys don’t win the Conn Smythe, superstars do. And it’s fair to ask if superstars want to play for Torts or see better opportunities elsewhere. This is something that the front office is going to have to figure out, but if we’re talking 2023-2024 in a vacuum, John Tortorella overachieved with this roster.