Flare-ups between coaches and reporters aren’t uncommon. And Philadelphia Flyers’ head coach John Tortorella has been involved in many of those over the years in his various coaching stops. But it’s perhaps more interesting still to see one of those continued weeks later, and to a point where Tortorella refused to answer any questions from the reporter in question.
That reporter is Anthony SanFilippo of Crossing Broad and the Snow the Goalie podcast. And Tortorella refused to take questions from him Saturday following Philadelphia’s 6-2 loss to the Boston Bruins as part of a continued objection to SanFilippo’s past reporting on Cutter Gauthier and Kevin Hayes:
Torts remembered the reporter he sparred with over the Cutter Gauthier reports ? pic.twitter.com/XilDLwvl5X
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) January 27, 2024
“Are you the same guy? Did I go at you the last time? Not answering any of your questions.”
This came after Philadelphia’s fifth-straight loss, and amidst other turmoil around the team. Goalie Carter Hart stepped away from the Flyers’ last week, with that cited as “for personal reasons.” But the similar exits of three other NHL players and one European player who all were on the 2018 Canadian world junior team and the Globe and Mail report that five members of that team have been asked to surrender to London (Ontario) police on sexual assault charges dating back to that time have prompted discussion of if those situations are linked. And the Flyers’ response has been just to refer all questions to the NHL. So there’s a lot going on with this organization apart from the Gauthier-Hayes story.
But the Gauthier-Hayes incident is worth further discussion itself. Earlier this month, Philadelphia traded Boston College forward Gauthier (their first-round draft pick in 2022, fifth overall) for Anaheim Ducks defenseman Jamie Drysdale and a 2025 second-round draft pick. And Flyers’ GM Daniel Brière said he made that move because Gauthier refused to meet with team officials and said he would not play for the team. That prompted reporting on just why, and it prompted SanFilippo in particular to cite a team source saying Hayes (who played for the Flyers from 2019-23 but was traded to the St. Louis Blues last summer, and who also played at Boston College) “had his fingerprints all over this”:
"I talked to somebody in the organization…Kevin Hayes' fingerprints are all over this." – @AntSanPhilly on the Cutter Gauthier trade
— Crossing Broad (@CrossingBroad) January 9, 2024
That report led to an incredible amount of drama. In particular, it got picked up, discussed, and criticized by Ryan Whitney and Paul Bissonnette of Barstool Sports’ Spittin’ Chiclets podcast, with Whitney relaying comments disputing that from Hayes. Hayes then took this on further on social media and in comments to reporters, calling SanFilippo “a f****** clown” and saying backlash to this report had led to him getting death threats and references to his brother’s 2021 death. And Tortorella went off on SanFilippo in a major rant after a shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 10:
— Flyers Nation (@FlyersNation) January 11, 2024
“Is the guy here that caused Kevin Hayes a problem? “Are you kidding me? You think Kevin Hayes is going to do something like that? It’s bullsh*t. It pisses me off that you guys throw that sh*t around and affect someone’s life. Kevin and I had a problem, we couldn’t come to an agreement on how to play. That’s a good man. That’s a good man and what you said is gonna stay with him. That’s what you guys don’t understand, you say something, and you’re going to sit there and say you have the right sources. I call bullsh*t.”
As previously discussed with this, some of the criticism for SanFilippo here seems to be going too far. It seems unlikely he made up the comments that kicked off this whole thing, and it seems more likely that he did get them from an organizational source. His decision to relay those comments to the public, and the particular way he chose to relay them, can certainly be debated, but even with that, the way others have reacted to the story (with the death threats for Hayes in particular) is not on him. And there’s some news value to someone in the Flyers’ organization accusing a former player of talking a current draft pick into holding out to force a trade (although that news value is obviously dependent on how highly-placed that source is and just what they said), regardless of if there’s any truth to that claim.
Regardless of one’s perspective on the SanFilippo/Hayes/Gauthier situation, though, it’s notable to see Tortorella continuing this feud several weeks later. And it’s interesting to see him doing that not even in response to a question. And this looks like the latest media feud for him, and it will be interesting to see how long that lasts.
As mentioned, Tortorella has had many media run-ins over the years (perhaps most notably with Larry Brooks of The New York Post), including in this role with Philadelphia. So this isn’t unprecedented. And the Flyers’ organization as a whole has taken some interesting media stances. And there are currently plenty of reasons why Tortorella might want some media focus on this rather than the team’s losing skid or the Hart situation. But with all that said, it’s still something to see him continue this feud with SanFilippo and refuse to take questions from him.
[B/R Open Ice on Twitter/X]