VOORHEES, N.J. — John Tortorella is not oblivious to the word "tank" and why it has been thrown around about his team.
While Tortorella doesn't really care for the meaning behind it, can he use it?
Because if the 64-year-old head coach is aware of the tanking topic, then his players likely are, too.
Tortorella, a motivation scientist, is often searching for ways to push his players. Every drip of motivation helps.
What about the people that may want his team to lose? Does that drive his players?
"I don't talk to the players about you guys, what you guys write, quite honestly," Tortorella said Thursday morning with a smile. "I think you need to look for different motivations, I think that's when you become your best, when you're always looking for motivation. That's certainly one, I would have to think, for a professional athlete. For people to say, 'Oh, s---, this isn't a good team, just continue to lose.'"
The Flyers are in transition mode. It's no secret the most efficient way to acquire high-end talent and supplement a team in transition is through the NHL entry draft. How does one improve their chances at landing the best talent in the draft? Well, losing.
For whatever pro-tankers are out there in the Delaware Valley, the Flyers disappointed them recently by sweeping a three-game California road trip following the NHL-mandated holiday break. Two of the wins came against clubs below them in the standings. On Thursday night, the Flyers will face another team behind them in the pecking order when the Coyotes visit the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
The Flyers want to win a season-best fourth straight game. They're 14-17-7 and have made some progress. They're young and looking to build in this 2022-23 campaign.
"It's nice to get a little streak going after the New Year," Kevin Hayes said Thursday morning. "It's good for our confidence. I think a lot of guys are happier, there's a lot more energy around the rink when you don't lose every other night. Put it this way, it only adds to our team.
"You can definitely say that it gives us more confidence and kind of builds a swagger that we're trying to build here."
Tortorella knows how a winning streak can boost morale within the locker room.
"We talk about rebuilding, all the language, all the articles written about what this team is, what it's supposed to be, people pissed off, tank, all this stuff that's being talked about — all players want to do is win," Tortorella said. "That's how they qualify themselves. To get a few wins in a row, it's good for them."
If the outside noise about rebuilding and tanking makes its way to his guys, Tortorella probably won't mind.
"I really don't know what's being written out there, but I know the aura around the club or the stuff around us — and rightfully so, we make our own bed — it would eat at me as a player," Tortorella said. "It eats at me as a coach and I don't even put the damn uniform on.
"So if I'm a player, I'm looking for added motivation. And that is not a criticism of you guys (the media), don't take it that way at all. That's the lay of the land of being a professional athlete.
"But I think when athletes become their best, they look for motivations. I try to make things up for myself. I do. And I think athletes should do that because I think you get to a higher level."
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