How Much Power Does John Tortorella Hold?

As the shakeup of the Philadelphia Flyers front office continues, the two pillars already in place are interim GM Danny Briere and head coach John Tortorella. The two have displayed a unified front since Briere took over and have mirrored their messaging about the road ahead for the Flyers and what we can expect from the offseason.

Tortorella became the de facto face of the franchise this season with his larger than life personality and legendary status as a coach. It led to many on-ice positives for the Flyers, while still posing some rather interesting questions about what exactly his total role within the front office is and how much say and power he holds.

With the transition of power currently taking place, John Tortorella is seemingly a big player in the new-look construction. He ended up watching most of the last few games from the press box while splitting the head coaching duties between assistants Brad Shaw and Rocky Thompson. He took in those games next to interim GM Danny Briere, exchanging war stories and whispering sweet nothings about the state of this roster. He’s clearly letting his influence be known, and there’s a good chance Briere is all ears as he gears up for his first offseason as an NHL GM until the other reinforcements within the front office are hired.

The Flyers having a president and head coach on the same page should theoretically be a good thing. It never seemed to be the case through much of the Fletcher/Vigneault era, and there were rumors since Tortorella’s first days in Philly that Fletcher didn’t necessarily love the fact the organization hired him.

While Tortorella did a lot of good things for the team this year, there is a bit of concern when it comes to him having his finger prints on the roster decisions. He’s never been afraid to let his stance on players like Trevor Zegras be known, and clashed with Patrik Laine, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Artemi Panarin during his days in Columbus.

If his hand is in the decision-making cookie jar and he’s going to take a hard stance against adding star players because they don’t fit the desired two-way, boring hockey he loves, it’s a pretty big problem for a team that is starved of high-end talent and failing because of it.

There’s the sinking feeling that, if not kept in check, Tortorella will build the team in a similar image to the Blue Jackets. He chased away their top players like Sergei Bobrovsky, Artemi Panarin and Matt Duchene and left behind a solid, low-ceiling team that barely snuck into the playoffs only to get stomped in the first round. A ceiling that the Flyers have already maxed out at for much of the last decade and that’s not really the desired outcome this time around if they’re entering their second rebuild.

There are plenty of positives that John Tortorella has brought to the team and his attributes shouldn’t be overlooked, but you can separate his coaching accomplishments while acknowledging that his vision for what a roster should look like in 2023 is outdated and not good enough for long-term success. “Thanks for your contributions, but stay in your lane” kinda thing.

On more of a grand scale when analyzing the Flyers’ front office this summer, Tortorella’s power trip and Briere’s rise to GM despite a non-existent track record really does throw question to the hiring process of the new team president. Who willing inherits a team with a GM and coach already in place, especially when it’s these two specifically? It’s definitely not a typical situation, which may be why the candidates that are out there are all former players with little involvement in other front offices, because any qualified veteran isn’t thrilled about the current setup.

If with the complete lack of experience of Danny Briere was already a slightly worrying aspect of his hiring, and now if he’s just the puppet on Tortorella’s marionette it ups the concern meter even more. The offseason has just begun and more of the story will begin to unravel as the rest of the front office hirings are made, but only once the draft and free agency period have been completed will we have a better understanding of who is actually making the decisions when it comes to the roster construction, an that answer could have very different outcomes for the future of the team.

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFleyeraFan)

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