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Flyers coach John Tortorella all business as he returns to face the Blue Jackets

Flyers coach John Tortorella all business as he returns to face the Blue Jackets

VOORHEES, NJ – John Tortorella was in no mood to reminisce about the past.

He never really is: he’s always looking ahead, fixated on the challenge at hand.

And that’s the Flyers.

So a day before returning to Columbus, Ohio, where he coached for the last time for six seasons, the 64-year-old wasn’t going to add to his comeback story.

“I’m going back there to coach a hockey team,” the Flyers head coach said Wednesday.

This is true.

“I have a lot of friends there, a great place,” Tortorella said, “but I’m going back there to coach the Flyers and try to win.”

Tortorella coached the Blue Jackets from 2015 to 2021. He will coach against them for the first time since then when the Flyers visit Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Before Tortorella took over in Columbus, the Blue Jackets had missed the playoffs in 12 of the 14 seasons since the franchise’s birth in 2000. Under Tortorella, Columbus had a streak of four straight postseason appearances , highlighted by their surprising sweep in the first round. A lightning bolt in 2019.

After his work with the Blue Jackets was brought up a few times Wednesday, Tortorella was willing to move on from the subject of himself.

“You know I don’t want to talk about that,” he said. “So let’s move on to another question.”

The Flyers can respect his businesslike attitude. They have been fueled by Tortorella’s approach and direction. They return to their old stomping grounds with a 7-3-2 record, better than almost anyone except the Flyers expected.

But it’s only 12 games and Tortorella sees the long road for the Flyers.

“I thought we played a really good game last night, got the blood going today and got ready to coach another game,” he said as his team went through a practice overseen by assistant coaches. “I’m not going to get caught up in all the other stuff. Like I tell you every day, we’ve got a lot of work to do here, I’m just focused on the day-to-day work with the Philadelphia Flyers.”

If the Flyers win on Thursday, maybe Tortorella will be a little more open to reflecting on his time in Columbus after the game.

So get this one for the bank boss?

“We want to win every game,” Carter Hart said with a smile. “The mentality doesn’t change.”

Hart practiced Wednesday after missing The Flyers beat the Blues 5-1 on Tuesday due to an illness.

“I watched a little bit and then I went to bed,” Hart said. “I was in bed early last night.”

Did the sleep do you any good?

“Yes,” he said, “a long time.”

Hart is expected to be in net on Thursday. The last time the Flyers were in Columbus, they beat the Blue Jackets when Cam Atkinson returned for the first time as a visitor.

Now it’s Tortorella’s turn to step back and feel the spotlight.

“When Cam got back in there, we wanted to win that game for him,” Travis Konecny ​​said. “As a coach it’s a little bit different, but when it comes down to it, we want to get the win for him there.”

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