Flyers coach John Tortorella pushes full throttle on Day 1, likes him a bit ‘ugly as hell’

FORHEES, NJ — Mason Millman picked up a water bottle and cleaned up what he couldn’t keep behind the couch.

The 21-year-old defensive prospect had the unenviable task of being in the first group to plow through John Tortorella’s infamous Day 1 off the skate until you practically collapsed.

That’s skating and skating and skating. Round after round after round. Down and back down and back.

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Millman, far from the only player bent over afterward, saw the big boss give him a supportive pat on the shoulder.

As if to say: Keep it up, boy. You’re done. That’s what it’s all about.

Tortorella was as advertised Thursday as the Flyers kicked off the 2022 training camp in grueling style.

No pucks. All skating.

Each of the four groups that had to take one of the two ice caps at Flyers Training Center skated for about 27 minutes.

The sessions included approximately 17 minutes of rounds that would lengthen as the assistant coaches moved the nets from the top of the circles to the goal area. After the rounds were back and forth, skating from goal line to goal line for 10 minutes.

“For me it’s not physical. For them it is. You look at them and it has to be that way,” Tortorella said. “I get that and I appreciate that. But for me I look at the mental part of it. … Especially with a new team there will be mental and physical tests if they don’t even know it’s happening. I was very happy with how the guys were dealing with themselves today.

“There will be harder skates than today as we go through camp. It’s not about pounding our chests and just burying them. We want to test them and it develops a camaraderie. They kind of look at you like, ‘You are not going to me.’ I think the attitude we’re trying to develop is a will.”

With a Stanley Cup ring and two Jack Adams Awards on his resume, 64-year-old Tortorella was hired as the Flyers’ new head coach in June. He was brought on board to largely change the culture of the club, which went 25-46-11 last season.

“Last year we had a lot of adversity, on and off the ice,” said Flyers CEO Chuck Fletcher. “Obviously we didn’t face the challenges we faced, there’s no getting around it. It was an extremely disappointing season, one that we lived with all summer and certainly one that prompted us to make the changes. bring that we have done, both on and off the ice.

“But this year it’s a clean slate for everyone – John has made that very clear to the players. We know there are a lot of skeptics, a lot of people who don’t believe we are a good hockey team. I know our players stand too eager to prove them wrong – we all are.”

Nicolas Deslauriers is one of the newcomers to the Flyers. The rugged winger signed a four-year contract in July. As Tortorella watched as Deslauriers began toiling through his laps, he turned to assistant coach Brad Shaw, a little concerned.

“We were probably two reps in the skate and I went to Shawsy and I said, ‘S—, Shawsy, I’m not sure what’s going to happen to Nic here,'” Tortorella said. “I meant it. And I looked at that man and he was ugly as hell, but he got through it. He never stopped. He finished where he was supposed to.”

Tortorella was passionate when he told about it. He felt that something had been accomplished by the ugliness.

“I went to Nic after that, I said, ‘I hope other guys saw that.’ I said, ‘I don’t care what it looks like, as long as the finish was there,'” said Tortorella. “He came into the office after the skate and we talked a little bit about it. Those are important little things.”

Tony DeAngelo, another off-season addition, laughed as he sat down in the upstairs press conference room at the Flyers Training Center.

“I was trying to find a lift to get here,” he said.

The legs begged for a break.

Had he ever experienced a first day where no pucks were used?

“No,” he said with a laugh. “But it’s okay, things change, so it’s good.

“It’s a mix of everything. Getting in shape, being ready for the start of the season, but also mentally, I’m sure it’s going through everyone’s mind there, you can’t wait for it to finish. But how hard can you push the last two laps, three laps, four laps? Then you also have the six up and down. It’s a tough day. He knows what he’s doing.”

Wade Allison is healthy and looking for a new coaching staff. He insists on a place on the roster and enjoyed being pushed by Tortorella on Thursday.

“Today wasn’t to kill us, today was to let us know it’s about the will,” he said. “And tomorrow will be the same.

“Look deep inside yourself and keep pushing, push yourself to be the best you can be. He’s trying to get that of the top players all the way down.”

The Flyers have over 60 healthy players in the camp. Tortorella was “elated that everyone came in early” for the camp.

“They’ve been here since September 1. Most of the veterans, some children came a little later,” he said. “I think they’ve done a good job together that way and there’s some camaraderie involved as well.”

The Flyers were hit hard by injuries last season. They are also working on it now.

It only adds to Tortorella’s challenge here in Philadelphia.

“When I drove across the bridge and saw the city of Philly, I love coming to this building because sometimes it was so great, it helps the home team, but sometimes it helps the away team even more. You get into a building that is alive,” said Tortorella. “I hope if we start doing the things we should be doing, doing the things we should be doing and just put the time into the effort, it would get people back here so we can get that. kind of atmosphere.

“A for B. I know we want to look at our record and at wins and losses and playoffs and stuff like that, but I just want us to get on track as far as we are as pros. Hopefully we’ll make it through.” in such a group and how we are as a team.”

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