The Flyers will be hiring John Torchetti as an interim assistant coach for the 2021-22 season, BSH has confirmed. Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli was the first to report the news.
Due to the timing of this announcement, this isn’t a fix for the current season; there are only so many bandaids you can slap on bullet holes before you realize it’s just not working. This hire is probably that a test period to see if it is a situation that works for everyone.
Torchetti was a right wing for seven seasons at the AHL and ECHL level, with eight games played in the QMJHL. Following his playing career, Torchetti spent six seasons in roles ranging from assistant head coach to general manager of various minor league teams before he made an appearance in the NHL in 2009 as an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning. His career has been full of short stints — two seasons with Tampa, two seasons with the Florida Panthers, one season with the Los Angeles Kings, three seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, one season with the Atlanta Thrashers (RIP), a partial season with the Minnesota Wild, and two seasons with the Detroit Red Wings.
Torchetti has been an interim head coach to three different NHL franchises: the Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, and Minnesota Wild. He was promoted from the AHL franchise for two of those interim tags, Florida and Minnesota. And on top of this, he has replaced Mike Yeo twice — once with the Houston Aeros in 2011 as Yeo was promoted to a head coach role with the big club, the Minnesota Wild, and then again in 2016 after Yeo was fired by the Wild. (I don’t think there is any conspiracy here, it’s simply amusing to see how all of the coaches in the NHL are related in some way.)
Torchetti clearly has experience working with both Mike Yeo and Chuck Fletcher from his time with the Minnesota Wild. He also won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Let’s talk about it. I am reluctant to give anyone in the NHL credit for how they have handled assault of any sort, but I would like to tentatively say, we may have a good one here. I don’t know how many more words I can add in there to hedge my bet, so here are some quotes from Kyle Beach himself.
From this interview with Rick Westhead, Beach answered this question, “So, when (then-teammates) Nick Boynton and say everybody knew in that locker room, you think they were telling the truth?” with this response:
I 100 per cent believe both of them and I haven’t spoken to either of them since the last time I would have ran into them at a training camp. I do not know them, I do not have a personal relationship with them, I do not have their phone numbers, I have not spoken to them. So, for them to come forward, to corroborate the story, I owe them a huge thank you as I do Paul Vincent, yourself, and many, many others. (Former Blackhawks associate coach) John Torchetti, my family, and friends for supporting me, my girlfriend Bianca for being there for me every single day. Because reliving this and having to dig back to those memories for the investigation, for the lawsuit, having to tell my story over and over has not been easy. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through, but at the same time, it’s a huge step I realize now in the healing process. But for those individuals who came forward early on with absolutely nothing to gain, they’re heroes to me. They really are. Because when I was alone, I was afraid and I was scared, I didn’t think I could turn to anyone. Even when this first came out, the Blackhawks denied it. They said they did an investigation. They said my claims were meritless. To me, I took that as them saying to the world that I was a liar, that I was lying. And to have these individuals like Paul Vincent, like Nick Boynton, Torchetti and Sopel come forward, then I knew I wasn’t alone. And I could never thank them enough for doing that, because it gave me the strength to continue forward with this.
“Stan Bowman has quoted Joel Quenneville saying — and this is not a quote, this is my words — saying that the playoffs, the Stanley Cup playoffs and trying to win a Stanley Cup, was more important than sexual assault,” Beach told Westhead. “And I can’t believe that. As a human being, I cannot believe that, and I cannot accept that. I’ve witnessed meetings, right after I reported it to James Gary, that were held in Joel Quenneville’s office. There’s absolutely no way that he can deny knowing it and there’s absolutely no way that Stan Bowman would make up a quote like that, to somebody who served his organization and his team so well.”
Beach also talked about how former teammates Nick Boynton and Brent Sopel stood by him. About how former assistant coach John Torchetti did, too. About how skills coach Paul Vincent was an “amazing man” whose integrity and insistence helped bring the allegations to light and bring about the reckoning now facing the Blackhawks and the league at large.
Yes, there are good people in hockey, too. Good people in the Blackhawks organization. There just weren’t nearly enough of them. Certainly not in the front office in 2010, certainly not in that meeting on May 23, an hour after the Blackhawks won the Western Conference final.
A lot has been said in the past few months about the Flyers culture and how it has deviated so dramatically from The Good Old Days. I don’t have a horse in that race, but if I had to build a new culture for the Flyers, it would be one around breaking down social NHL norms and believing survivors. It feels like the Flyers did their due diligence here.
What kind of coach will Tochetti be for the Flyers? No idea. He hasn’t stuck long enough or had control long enough to make an accurate prediction. I’m hoping he doesn’t make the connection that toxic organizations win championships, but who are we kidding, the Flyers are far from competing at that level. Our entire kingdom for Torchetti to make good decisions and prove to the fans why he should stick around.