Rocky Thompson to join Flyers coaching staff

UPDATE [July 28] – The Flyers made the signing of Rocky Thompson official Thursday morning, announcing he will join head coach John Tortorella and fellow assistant coach Brad Shaw behind the bench this season.

“Rocky is a great addition to our staff and we are delighted to start working with him,” Tortorella said in a statement. “He has a sharp mind and eye for the game, but from the first time we sat down to talk it was clear he brought the enthusiasm and high level of energy needed for the job. His skills in communication are going to be vital for our dressing room.”

ORIGINAL [July 14] – Former San Jose Sharks assistant Rocky Thompson has reportedly been added to John Tortorella’s coaching staff, by Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.

Thompson was hired off the bench by Sharks head coach Bob Boughner in September 2020after Boughner dropped the interim tag, and was put in charge of defense and power play.

However, he had to leave after a year because – citing a medical exemption – he was unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and therefore could not meet the requirements of the NHL and NHLPA COVID protocols established for the 2021-22 season.

Another note from Thompson’s brief run in San Jose: He nearly came to blows with current Edmonton Oilers forward Evander Kane, whose relationship with the Sharks was crumbling amid a violation suspension COVID-19 protocols, a bankruptcy filing, gambling issues, and allegations of abuse by his ex-wife.

Kane’s contract was eventually terminated.

Via The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz on the incident:

“At some point towards the end of the season, according to a source, Kane nearly came to blows with assistant coach Rocky Thompson in a meeting after they argued over where he was supposed to be positioned on the game of Powerful. Multiple sources indicated there was general frustration among the team that Kane was allowed to get away with whatever he wanted, with no repercussions.” [The Athletic]

Kane himself would later confirm the close fight with Thompson in an interview with TSN.

Thompson, 44, is a former player who played 25 NHL games with the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers in the late 90s and early 2000s.

His transition to coaching included stops in juniors with the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings (2007-10) and Windsor Spitfires of the OHL (2015-17), and minors with the former Barons of Oklahoma City of the AHL (2010-14) and the Chicago Wolves as their head coach (2017-20).

At the NHL level, he served as an assistant coach with the Oilers in the 2014-15 season before returning to the Sharks several years later.

Thompson would join defense-supervising Brad Shaw on the Tortorella bench, with a staff that includes the return of Darryl Williams (assistant coach), Kim Dillabaugh (goalkeeping coach), Adam Patterson and Vinny Yula (video coaches).

He may also be something of a counterweight to Tortorella’s personality, at least according to Flyers writer and contributor Bill Meltzer.

The Flyers begin their preseason slate Sept. 24 and their regular-season schedule Oct. 13, all after an offseason that, so far, hasn’t gone too well.

Follow Nick on Twitter: @itssnick

Like us on facebook: Philly Voice Sports