Is John Tortorella right about NHL coaching evolution?

Philadelphia Flyers bench boss John Tortorella recently described the current generation of NHL stars as part of 'a young, dumb league,' forcing coaches to change their approach to the game.

Video Transcript

JULIAN MCKENZIE: I'm just curious. Like, the fact that John Tortorella actually said something insightful, as opposed to-- not to say he wouldn't say something insightful. It's just, considering how we would normally talk about John Tortorella, this is very different. What do you guys think about the fact that maybe this league is actually-- maybe he's on to something. Maybe there are more mistakes being done, but we're seeing more skill, and it's less structured. What do you guys think of that?

OMAR: Well, I would personally like to congratulate John Tortorella for finally making it to 2022. Congratulations.



OMAR: He told you.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: We throwing a lot of shade on today's show.

OMAR: But the league-- hockey has been more skilled for years now. This has been the conversation for years, where the way that we look at players and evaluate players and draft players has been the focus on hockey IQ and hockey sense. And that things like strength and toughness and whatever-- that can be grown later on. So that's been something that's been happening for a while now.

Now, I don't know how it looks like on the coaching side because I'm not a coach. I've never been a coach.


OMAR: Nah, I'm too emotional to be a coach.


JULIAN MCKENZIE: That's exactly why you should be a coach. But anyway.

OMAR: I don't know. But so hearing John Torres say that-- OK, yeah, congratulations-- I mean, you're telling us something you already know. Like, yes, the league is more skilled. Yes, players are making more mistakes because players are not being given the freedom to make more offensively creative moves. But Martin St. Louis said that when he was literally hired. He doesn't like coaching in systems because it handcuffs players, and it makes star players average. I love that quote, right?

So he's saying things that we already knew. So congratulations that he's finally realized it. He's not frickin' saying, oh, the game is going backwards, and oh, my god, there's no respect for players because they can do things that other players couldn't do 50 years ago. Like, give me a break, man. OK, yes, yes, congratulations. Good. You finally realized that, yes, there are score-skilled players, and you're giving room for skill players to be skill players. Great. Awesome.

Now, I hope when the day comes when the Philadelphia Flyers are not bad and are good, and there are skill players there, that you stick with that point and continue to let these skill players be skill players and don't freaking bench them and say, like, oh, well, you shouldn't be doing that. It's a 1-0 hockey game. You have to block shots and stuff. Anyway. So yeah. That's why I just wanted to--

JULIAN MCKENZIE: That was a really good rant. I didn't even think to get any food or distract myself.

OMAR: It's like, I don't know, man. It's just like, I read that, and I was like, OK, cool. Thanks for telling-- yeah, thanks. The sky is blue.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, that's fair. But John Tortorella is a smart coach. You're absolutely right. He should know that. I look forward to the day I see the Philadelphia Flyers with Morgan Frost and Cam York dominate. Well, I don't know if Cam York will be-- maybe Cam York might do something well, but probably not on the same level as the guy who was picked after. You guys do know who was picked after it, right?

OMAR: Was it Caufield Cole?

JULIAN MCKENZIE: It was Cole Caufield. Flyers fans-- yikes. Any other thoughts on Tortorella before I move on to the better of the two Robertson brothers?

AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: Now, I agree with Omar. Better late than never. But yeah, John, welcome to 2022. This is how hockey is moving forward. And this is how hockey will keep progressing as we go on through 2023 to 2024. And more of these guys like the Trevor Zegras, the Troy Terrys, the Carmen Davids do things that we've never seen before in the sport of hockey. So it's really you either adapt or you die, I'd say, coaching in this league now.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Actually, you know what? There's one thing I want to add to that. I want to see that change in the playoffs because as far as I'm concerned, I still think there's some kind of structure that teams want to play in the playoffs. When that starts to change in the postseason, notwithstanding the Battle of Alberta, where everyone just decided to score a bunch of goals, then I'll really, really feel that like we're starting to see a change.

In the regular season, I think it's fine. But I think, in the playoffs, we're still used to seeing teams at least be a little bit more safe, I guess. But we'll have to wait and see on that. That's just my humble take on it.