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John Tortorella says he will ‘play the kids’

The Flyers head coach made it clear that he sees the young talent.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

We are heading into a season of the Philadelphia Flyers where a lot of things are up in the air and hopefully, we get to see some sort of transition from team full of aging veterans to at least they’re giving opportunity to top prospects. It turns out that the latter sentiment might be a reality sooner than we expected.

Head coach John Tortorella spoke with the media after the first on-ice session of training camp and he gave some insight in how he is going to strike a balance between experienced players and up-and-coming talent.

“I’m going to play the kids,” Tortorella said plainly Thursday morning. “I’ll tell you right now. It doesn’t matter to me — stature, draft pick, whatever it may be, what you’ve done before — I think it’s a situation where it’s kind of a clean slate with me. Because I don’t know the players, I need to watch them.

“But I do feel, as an organization right now, we need to get a foundation underneath us here. We need to get back on the rails. And we need to get a good foundation of what our kids are, so they are going to get every opportunity. I’m not going to be afraid to put them into situations where it might bump another guy out that thought he was going to be there.”

Actions will speak louder than these words — and we can almost be certain that we will complain that someone like Bobby Brink or Owen Tippett isn’t getting enough opportunity at some point this season — but this is at least a start. Tortorella appeared to be honest that no one really has a secure position in the lineup and truthfully, the forward lines can look totally different than what we assume when the Flyers open up their regular season.

One specific comment is interesting on its own, as well. While speaking out bumping another guy out, Tortorella knows his own biases and assumptions about where these players are going to play and with who. But the next two weeks will open his eyes a little more and he might end up surprised by some young players. Maybe Cam York suddenly earns a top-four job, instead of hanging out with Justin Braun on the bottom pair. Perhaps players like Noah Cates, Bobby Brink, Owen Tippett, or Morgan Frost will be the top contributors on the team and suddenly get loads and loads of time on the power play. Who knows!

This is the beauty of training camp — especially the first day — where we can be full of hope and be told that coaches are going to focus on some things that is music to our ears. Hopefully, it rings true a couple months from now.