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Sean Couturier’s agent calls out lack of communication after captain surprisingly scratched

PHILADELPHIA — Ask anyone around the league about John Tortorella scratching a veteran player or key young contributor, and you’ll get some version of the same reply from just about all of them. That’s just Torts. And, OK, fair enough. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Tortorella, who made Philadelphia Flyers captain Sean Couturier a

Sean Couturier’s agent calls out lack of communication after captain surprisingly scratched

PHILADELPHIA — Ask anybody across the league about John Tortorella scratching a veteran participant or key younger contributor, and also you’ll get some model of the identical reply from nearly all of them.

That’s simply Torts.

And, OK, truthful sufficient. That’s not essentially a nasty factor. Tortorella, who made Philadelphia Flyers captain Sean Couturier a healthy scratch Tuesday towards the Toronto Maple Leafs, has by no means shied away from pulling a participant who he believes can do extra or is actively hurting the staff. It’s an enormous a part of why the 65-year-old has lasted within the league so long as he has, having success with a number of organizations, together with two Jack Adams Awards because the NHL’s prime coach: in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning and in 2017 with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It’s been a key to his success with the Flyers this season, too. Morgan Frost was the early goal, scratched in 10 of the Flyers’ first 20 video games earlier than changing into a key second-half contributor. Joel Farabee watched 59 of the 60 minutes from the bench in a sport towards the New Jersey Devils on Nov. 30 after an early mistake price the Flyers a aim, then reeled off 14 factors in his subsequent 15 video games. Even the struggling Cam Atkinson posted 10 factors in a six-game span in January shortly after a gathering with Tortorella.

Tortorella nonetheless can press the suitable buttons.

In the case of scratching Couturier, it’s not just like the captain is enjoying his greatest hockey. He has only one aim in his final 27 video games and one help in his final 9 video games. Positive, he hasn’t had the luxurious of essentially the most expert linemates on lots of these nights, particularly lately, however he’s nonetheless not doing sufficient with the time he’s gotten.

Couturier did make a pleasant play Saturday on Nic Deslauriers’ aim, charging behind the Boston Bruins’ web and forcing Andrew Peeke right into a turnover, resulting in the rating. Maybe that ought to have earned him no less than another shift in what was a 5-3 Bruins lead with practically six minutes left to play.

However, you possibly can’t fault Tortorella for sitting him the remainder of the best way contemplating what occurred. The Flyers continued to strain the Bruins and scored twice extra on targets by Frost and Farabee, and had Felix Sandstrom provide you with what was a makable save on Danton Heinen, they very properly may have earned no less than some extent in that eventual 6-5 loss.

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So, yeah, maybe an argument might be made that Couturier deserved to return out of the lineup.

What he additionally deserved, although, was a greater clarification for why it occurred.

Probably the most puzzling side of Couturier’s scratching is that he hasn’t heard a lot about it from Tortorella, who, as made clear by basic supervisor Daniel Briere, was the only decision-maker. Couturier stated he has solely spoken with the coach “considerably” about it.

That’s possibly comprehensible when it’s a youthful man like Frost or Farabee, as Tortorella would possibly simply have been intrigued to see how a younger participant would reply to adversity, however not when it’s the 31-year-old captain who solely had the “C” stitched on his sweater just a little greater than a month in the past, on Feb. 14.

And based on Couturier’s agent, communication between the coach and captain has been lower than excellent for a while now.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Erik Lupien hadn’t spoken along with his consumer about his getting pulled from the lineup. However he did communicate with him a number of days in the past when Couturier’s ice time had already been trending downward. Couturier was averaging about 20 minutes on Jan. 13; he’s at 16:10 per sport since.

Couturier was puzzled by his diminished position even earlier than Tuesday’s scratching.

“He was clueless about his ice time, why his ice time went down,” Lupien stated. “However he stated, ‘I’m simply going to handle and play no matter he possibly needs me to play. If it’s 14 minutes, it’s going to be 14 minutes.’”

Simply as puzzling to Couturier, based on Lupien, is that the participant has had a superb rapport with Tortorella for the reason that coach’s arrival earlier than the 2022-23 season, even when Couturier wasn’t wholesome sufficient to play on the time. Tortorella being the driving drive behind Couturier getting the captaincy in any respect, when he beforehand stated no captain can be named this season, additionally speaks to that.

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“All through final 12 months and initially of (this) 12 months, within the conversations with Sean, he all the time instructed me that Tortorella and him had a fairly good relationship,” Lupien stated. “As quickly as we get by way of that character, he’s a fairly humorous man. And the conversations are good with him, and he is aware of what the staff needs and what he needs from him.

“From my perspective, after I noticed the information (Couturier was scratched), I’m like, I actually hope the communication why and the the reason why are actually clear. I hope he’s going to get a proof quickly as a result of he’s the captain, a pacesetter of the staff, and he has ‘Philadelphia’ tattooed on his chest since he received drafted. That’s why he needed to signal there and to signal a protracted contract. I hope he’s going to get that respect from John Tortorella.”

Maybe Tortorella is simply attempting to spark the Flyers, and so they did appear to reply Tuesday with a 4-3 win over the Maple Leafs. Possibly he’s hoping Couturier will do what Frost did in January and provoke a gathering with the coach to air his grievances. Possibly he’s simply hoping that, because the captain, Couturier will seize the bull by the proverbial horns a bit extra and step up at crucial time of the season and with a depleted Flyers lineup in the course of a playoff race.

Or, as he stated after Tuesday’s sport, maybe it’s merely a case of “placing the gamers out on the ice to win a specific sport, and these have been the 20 that we determined to go along with.”

However scratching Couturier and retaining him at midnight is an unconventional method of attempting to attain any of these issues, even when the participant’s sport must be higher. And it would even danger rattling the tradition the Flyers have labored so tediously to repair and preserve.

Sean Couturier tonight is the primary captain within the @NHL to be wholesome scratched since Ed Jovanovski in 2013-14
(Excluding when gamers are rested in the previous couple of video games of a season)

— Guillaume Villemaire (@GVillemaire13) March 19, 2024

Being the captain of an NHL staff, particularly as somebody as revered as Couturier, brings with it sure duties. One in all them, sometimes, is being the conduit from the dressing room to the coach’s workplace. When a coach must know the temperature of his room, in good instances or dangerous, he’s going to the captain with the thermometer.

Moreover, there’ll absolutely be a state of affairs sooner or later, whether or not it’s this season or past, when a younger participant is perhaps feeling some warmth from Tortorella and look to Couturier for steerage.

What’s Couturier purported to say when he’s not being given an in depth clarification about his personal state of affairs?

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“Sean received’t be taught something by being within the bleachers tonight,” Lupien stated. “He’s not a second-year professional that went by way of a chilly streak. Sean is a pacesetter and the captain of this staff, so by placing him within the bleachers, for a participant, he’s going to be ashamed to be there tonight. If there’s no communication of why between the 2, in 2024, from my perspective, it ain’t all the time good to teach and set up regimental concern. And these guys are within the playoff image.

“Together with your captain, it’s important to work collectively as a staff. You need to ship a message to the opposite guys, it has to undergo your captain and your assistant. So now you’re not speaking with him. So, OK, what’s subsequent?”

Looks like a legitimate query.

(Picture: Eric Hartline / USA As we speak)

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