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Flyers’ Coach Tortorella Comes To Defense Of Maple Leafs’ Keefe

John Tortorella came to the defense of Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe, sending a message to the media in the process.

For some reason — perhaps because they are friends, part of a coaching fraternity thing, or because he’s been there before himself — Philadelphia Flyers’ head coach John Tortorella came to the defense of Toronto Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe on Wednesday, just hours ahead of their respective teams playing each other in what many are calling an early must-win for both clubs.

While the media is torching Keefe for his team’s struggles, Tortorella told Toronto reporters: “You guys don’t know what he’s done for that team… You guys chuck darts at him because you want some results… He’s a terrific coach. I hope he jams it to you all, quite honestly. Not tonight.” As Luke Fox of Sportsnet points out, it’s a fascinating statement, especially because, “Most passionate defence of Keefe this season comes from an opposing coach.” He adds, “Keefe played for Tortorella in Tampa, and the two share a deep respect.”

Tortorella’s going to bat for Keefe comes as there are questions in Toronto about whether Keefe is the right bench boss to lead this Maple Leafs team forward. They are underperforming in a major way and he’s made comments about stars (which he backtracked on), then comments about his blue line, and recently benched Mitch Marner. All of these were decisions questioned by the media and the fan base in Toronto.

Of course, Tortorella has little love for the media, even though, when he’s not coaching, he’s often a part of it. A polarizing coach, criticism of Torts is far-reaching because he’s deemed a hard-nosed, player’s coach that is tough on systems, but he’s about as grumpy as they come in post-game media scrums. He says controversial things on a regular basis, simply because he’s so old-school and in a new world of hockey, his views are often viewed as archaic.

Tortorella Knows Toronto Wants The Win

“This team is loaded for bear tonight. They’re looking to come at us,” Tortorella said. He added, “They know it’s a back-to-back for us. A lot of s—t going around the city about this club. We need to stay within ourselves but also have the confidence to make plays.”

Sheldon Keefe John Tortorella Maple Leafs Flyers

He said he hopes Keefe sticks with what he believes is right when it comes to coaching his team. It’s easy to let the doubters get to you and the noise to creep in. The worst thing he thinks Keefe can do is steer away from what he thinks will best help his team in Toronto.

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