The majority of history’s best teams have a sort of cohesion with one another. The head coach who leads a team, and the general manager or president that builds it, have an understanding that the personnel needs to align, at least somewhat, with what the coaching staff wants.
It doesn’t have to be this way, but it makes a team a lot more cohesive if everyone is on the same page and can agree that they are seeing the same thing.
Nobody in the Flyers organization is currently seeing the same thing.
When John Tortorella raised issue with Tony DeAngelo’s defensive play (or lack thereof), recently, it marked yet another instance of the Flyers head coach publicly bemoaning some of Chuck Fletcher’s most high-profile acquisitions.
So far this season, Tortorella has had a public clash with Kevin Hayes, who Fletcher gave 50 million dollars in 2019. He called out Rasmus Ristolainen under a month into the season, who was acquired and extended by Fletcher, against all conventional wisdom. DeAngelo, the latest to feel the ire of the head coach, was Fletcher’s most integral signing of the most recent offseason.
Essentially, Fletcher has invested a sizeable amount of his reputation and the team’s assets into a trio of players that the head coach has a worse opinion of than the majority of the team’s Twitter followers.
And while the seemingly gaping divide in opinion between the coach and front office hasn’t become an issue yet, it’s quite obvious that no successful team goes out of their way to acquire players that their head coach cannot stand. It is the opposite of a harmonious relationship, and something will eventually have to give.
The good news is, at least for the majority of vocal Flyer fans, this likely means that Chuck Fletcher is on his last legs. John Tortorella seems to have the ear of the administration, and there seems to be an appetite to let him try to implement the culture reset within the organization that he has talked about since taking the job prior to this season. It seems like for better or for worse, Torts will be around for the next couple of years.
Considering how low expectations are for the roster at his disposal, it isn’t as if him having another .500 season in 2023-24 will really impact how the organization or the fanbase views him. It seems as if the Flyers brass is willing to give Tortorella a longer leash and the freedom to mold the team in the image he sees fit.
That brings us back to Chuck, who has to sit quietly and watch as the man he just hired complains about seemingly every player he’s ever acquired. With each passing day, Fletcher’s position gets more and more untenable. It is important to point out that this Flyers management group has already hitched their wagon to one coach, and after Alain Viganeault was fired in December of 2021, eyes shifted up to the press box.
There is a possibility that Fletcher and Tortorella can come together and combine their visions for the future, but when the gap in terms of player evaluation is so wide, there will eventually be a power struggle of some sort. Fletcher has had since 2018 to build a winner and hasn’t; when an experienced, pedigreed head coach comes in and expresses that the players simply aren’t good enough, it does not reflect well on an already underwhelming tenure.
From the outside looking in, it is hard to see a future where Chuck Fletcher remains GM in the long run. From a personal perspective, I think that Tortorella’s continued (mostly justified) bashing of players previously held in high regard by the organization has awoken some of the more senior brass to exactly how poor of a job Chuck Fletcher has done at amassing talent.
I’m not saying Fletcher is a sitting duck, but when you haven’t won anything during your now five year tenure, neither the coach nor the fans like the players you acquire, and you haven’t drafted well ... what more exactly do you need?