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John Tortorella? Barry Trotz? Does it matter whom the Flyers hire as their next coach?

The organization is low on talent and depth, which means a new head coach can make only so much of a difference.

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella, center, looks on during an NHL hockey game against the San Jose Sharks in San Jose, Calif.
Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella, center, looks on during an NHL hockey game against the San Jose Sharks in San Jose, Calif.Read moreJeff Chiu / AP

Before considering the question of whom the Flyers should hire as their next head coach – and they really can’t screw this up, no matter how hard they try – let’s stipulate something: It does not matter whom the Flyers hire as their head coach.

That is an overstatement, of course, but only a slight one. Look at the Flyers’ roster. Look at their farm system. Look at what Mike Yeo, their interim coach last season, said once a succession of injuries revealed the lack of depth and talent on their roster and in their farm system.

“When you have that many guys out,” Yeo told reporters, “I don’t care. You could have Toe Blake and Scotty Bowman. It doesn’t matter who your coach is. You’re not going to win. You’re not going to be successful.”

Yeo framed his words there within the context of the Flyers’ being shorthanded, and they were certainly worse for having Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes, and Ryan Ellis miss so many games. But there’s no guarantee that each of those players will remain fully healthy next season, and even if those three do return and stay in the lineup, the Flyers will still be an incomplete team, one that will be fortunate to earn a playoff berth – one that is, or should be, rebuilding.

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The gap between the Flyers and the NHL’s best clubs is so wide that no coach can close it, and that reality should be obvious to every candidate who has interviewed and will interview for this job. Which is a shame for the Flyers, because there are so many strong candidates available that it should be pretty much impossible for the organization to make a bad hire. The list is long and varied and loaded with experienced and accomplished coaches: Barry Trotz, John Tortorella, Peter DeBoer, Kirk Muller, Jim Montgomery, Rick Tocchet, Paul Maurice, David Quinn, and more.

Among those names, Tortorella is the most intriguing. All things being equal, Trotz would have to be considered the top candidate on the market. He has a .567 points percentage over his 23 years in the NHL, won a Stanley Cup with the Capitals, and most recently guided the Islanders to back-to-back appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals.

But Trotz hasn’t coached a team so far from competing for a championship since his early years with the Nashville Predators back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. To persuade him to come to Philadelphia, the Flyers would have to make him the NHL’s highest-paid coach by a wide margin, and given the condition of the franchise and the ever-shortening shelf life of head coaches in the league, it doesn’t seem that would be money well spent.

Tortorella would in theory be a slightly more cost-effective hire than Trotz, and he has had an excellent career in his own right: a Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004, 13 playoff appearances in more than 19 seasons with the Lightning, Rangers, Canucks, and Blue Jackets. His testy, combative persona would appeal to a large swath of the team’s fans and presumably to the old-school sensibilities of the organization’s power center: Dave Scott, Chuck Fletcher, Bob Clarke, Paul Holmgren, Bill Barber.

The true value of Tortorella, though, would be in his methods. He is demanding of his players, to say the least, and while he won that ‘04 Cup with a Lightning club that was stocked with skilled forwards – Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards, Vinny Lecavalier – at times he has favored a conservative, defensive-oriented system predicated on tough, jagged-edge hockey. His 2011-12 Rangers team, which reached the conference finals, embodied that approach: During the regular season, it won 51 games, led the league in fighting majors, and ranked third in goals-against average.

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Tortorella eventually wore out his welcome in New York. The Rangers were contenders, and his heavy-handedness was holding them back; after his firing, they reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2014 under the relatively freer reign of … Alain Vigneault.

These Flyers aren’t good enough for any coach to hold them back, and they have to find out which of their younger, less-experienced players are worth keeping and building around and which ones are expendable. If anything, Tortorella’s withering style could serve as a fine threshing machine for the franchise. Hey, that kid survived the Torts experience. Maybe we’ve got something there.

But no one should bet on Tortorella’s still being here if and when the Flyers turn themselves around. This is going to take a while, and few NHL coaches, if any, get that kind of time anymore.