'Some guys in here don"t even care': Thompson speaks about accountability
Someone had to say it and it turns out to be the guy in charge on Tuesday.
It was too little too late for the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, and the lack of effort was noticeable from behind the bench.
The visiting St. Louis Blues stormed through Philadelphia to score three goals unanswered in the first 40 minutes of the game and the Flyers just looked completely dead out there on the ice.
Luckily for them, they got to hear a little bit of a different voice in charge of the bench as assistant coach Rocky Thompson took the reins over from John Tortorella, as the regular assistant coach enjoyed watching the game from above.
"I don't think we competed at all, in the very beginning," Thompson said after the game. "Sometimes it's not just competing up ice, but it's competing in your own end. And I thought we were sitting back – we just weren't working at all. I just thought some individuals were just going through the motions and fortunate for us, it changed, but it was too little too late. A good lesson to learn."
After the second intermission, the Flyers seemed to take control of the play with James van Riemsdyk and Morgan Frost bringing it to a tight 3-2 game with under 10 minutes left in regulation. It just felt like a typical overtime or shootout loss kind of game where the Flyers walk away with a loser point, but the Blues scored an empty-netter to seal the deal and earn the 4-2 win in Philadelphia.
The Flyers assistant coach continued to speak at length about the team's effort and the lack thereof in the early part of the game, and that he put his own stamp on the game with a chat to the players during the second intermission.
Turns out, it was a discussion that must have hit home for most and rejuvenated some during this last stretch of a miserable season.
"I just said, 'It's not about X's and O's, and quite frankly it looks like some guys in here don't even care, they're just not trying,'" Thompson said. "I said, 'I'm not going to call anybody out individually, but your teammates know, and you know, and I'll give everybody another chance here and if you do it, I'll keep playing you. If you're not, I'm not going to play you.'
"I don't have that authority typically as an assistant coach and I'm a little bit more of the good guy, when you're the assistant coach, but at the end of the day, black is black and white is white. I think the message got through."
Thompson got a taste of what it is like to be an NHL head coach, but has enough of his own experience leading the locker room of teams that expect to be winning games, in the AHL and OHL. If he can get a couple goals out of a team that is barely putting any effort into their skating for the first two periods, then maybe he has a future in the National somewhere else.
We know for sure that trying to tell a team why they should win this meaningless game between two teams already mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, is an incredibly difficult task. So the sheer fact that the game was turned around feels like a quasi miracle and something that Thompson had a direct impact on.
For now, he's getting to run these games while his boss is getting a different perspective but who knows what is going to happen next. We do know that some of these Flyers are certainly "going through the motions" because their time is done in Philadelphia as the team shifts to focus on the future. We can't really blame them for dragging their feet in a game that feels like just ticking the 77th box off of a to-do list that is 82 things long.
Just five games left, everyone.