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July 28, 2022

Former Sharks assistant Rocky Thompson joins Flyers coaching staff

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Flyers-Canucks-Wells-Fargo-Center-Kate-Frese_101521-4.jpg Kate Frese/For PhillyVoice, All Rights Reserved

The Wells Fargo Center before the Flyers' home opener last season against Vancouver on Oct. 15, 2021.

UPDATE [July 28] – The Flyers made Rocky Thompson's hiring official Thursday morning, announcing that he will be joining head coach John Tortorella and fellow assistant coach Brad Shaw behind the bench this season.

"Rocky is an important addition to our staff and we are excited 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 speak it was clear that he brings enthusiasm and a high level of energy needed for this job. His communication skills are going to be vital to our locker room."

ORIGINAL [July 14] – Former San Jose Sharks assistant Rocky Thompson is reportedly being added to John Tortorella's coaching staff, per Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.

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

He had to leave after one year, however, as — citing a medical exemption — he was unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and therefore couldn't meet the requirements for the NHL's and NHLPA's COVID protocols set 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 falling apart amidst a suspension for a violation of COVID-19 protocols, a bankruptcy declaration, gambling problems, and allegations of abuse by his ex-wife. 

Kane's contract was eventually terminated.

Via The Athletic's Kevin Kurz on the incident:

"At one point late in the season, according to a source, Kane nearly came to blows with assistant coach Rocky Thompson in a meeting after arguing where he was supposed to be positioned on the power play. Several sources indicated there was a general frustration among the team that Kane was permitted to get away with whatever he wanted, with no repercussions." [The Athletic]

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

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

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

At the NHL level, he was an assistant coach for the Oilers in the 2014-15 season before coming back with the Sharks several years later. 

Thompson would be joining Brad Shaw, who's overseeing the defense, on Tortorella's bench, along with a staff that includes the returning Darryl Williams (assistant coach), Kim Dillabaugh (goaltending coach), Adam Patterson, and Vinny Yula (video coaches).

He may also be a counterbalance of sorts to Tortorella's personality, at least according to Flyers writer and contributor Bill Meltzer. 

The Flyers begin their preseason slate on September 24 and their regular-season schedule on October 13, all following an offseason that, so far, hasn't gone too great.

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