John Tortorella backs Chuck Fletcher after Flyers don’t trade James van Riemsdyk

VOORHEES, NJ — John Tortorella is nothing if not intensely loyal.

The coach will go to fight for those who accompany him, even in the most extreme circumstances.

A day after Chuck Fletcher faced a strong backlash for not finding a way to trade James van Riemsdyk by Friday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline, Tortorella smiled in confusion at the criticism leveled at the GM’s Flyers.

“You don’t think he tried to move it? Are you kidding me? He tried like hell to move it,” Tortorella said after practice on Saturday. “There are so many different scenarios that have played out. I just don’t understand the criticism of James still being there, like Chuck has him; million (contract), we have to eat some of the money, probably half of that, as I’m sure you know.

“Chuck tried. But everyone wants to keep going.”

Fletcher is in his fourth full season as the Flyers general manager. In his first year in office, the Flyers won their first playoff series since 2012 and lost a victory heading into the Eastern Conference Finals. The following two seasons, however, the Flyers missed the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 1992-93 and 1993-94.

This season, the club have changed course towards some sort of future-oriented rebuild under Tortorella. The Flyers were sellers on a third straight deadline and Fletcher said they were “ready to listen to just about anything if it makes sense.”

They reached two deals on expiring contracts but were unable to move van Riemsdyk, their most obvious chip and one of the biggest rental names remaining in the market as of early Friday.

The 33-year-old winger was training with the Flyers on Saturday instead of traveling to join a new club.

“Definitely, from what I was hearing, a little surprised,” van Riemsdyk said in his dressing room. “But you realize eventually, being there long enough, that things are happening the way they are going to be. … Nothing is ever certain until it’s done.”

Van Riemsdyk said he had no conversation with Fletcher about Friday’s deadline result. Unsurprisingly, van Riemsdyk is ready to give his best for the Flyers’ final 20 games.

Fletcher has been in professional hockey for 30 years, so he understands the pressure that comes with his position and in a market like Philadelphia. Tortorella didn’t shy away from the criticism and challenge with the Flyers.

But he didn’t think Fletcher or the Flyers deserved the vitriol here.

“For me, I want this to be legitimate criticism,” Tortorella said. “That you’re coming to criticize Chuck for not moving JVR – I guess that’s what’s going on – I don’t understand because he tried like hell. And why not us? First of all, out of respect for JVR. That’s the main thing with Chuck, he’s such a good man, he wants (van Riemsdyk) and (Justin Braun) to play.

“But I get it. I haven’t been here the whole time. I think Chuck was kind of run over and thrown darts for quite a while here. For me, throw darts at me when you think I I just don’t want you to criticize Chuck at this point in the deadline because something sexy didn’t happen Nothing sexy was going to happen I think we all understand That, right, going into this. Contracts expiring, we were trying to acquire assets. That’s key. And he tried. But you still need people who are willing to join. ours.

In July, Tortorella defended Fletcher’s offseason, which has come under intense scrutiny.

On Saturday, he stuck with his GM on van Riemsdyk’s non-trade.

“Don’t get me wrong, we have to grow skin here,” Tortorella said. “Criticism is part of that and we deserve criticism when it comes to where we are as a team. I just don’t like the unwarranted…you have enough to criticize me or Chuck. I don’t like thinks criticizing Chuck about his day yesterday is justified because he and the scouts were waiting, willing and able.

“We deserve a lot of bullshit here, we deserve it, from you guys. We deserve it. But not that one, not for me.”

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