Ristolainen shares his unfiltered thoughts on John Tortorella.

Ristolainen shares his unfiltered thoughts on John Tortorella.

Flyers defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen on what it's really like to play for John Tortorella.

Jonathan Larivee

John Tortorella has been coaching in the National Hockey League for a very long time. The coach whose career spans over 3 decades has outlasted generations of young hockey players and has left quite the impression along the way. Whether you love Tortorella or hate him, the reality is that there are very few people who find themselves feeling indifferent when it comes to the veteran NHL coach and his players seemingly often have a similar reaction to him as well.

Tortorella's issues with former Flyers forward Kevin Hayes were well publicized but while you may have gotten one impression of Tortorella's work in Philadelphia from that relationship dynamic, it would seem that the polar opposite also exists in the Flyers locker room.

Over the weekend, much maligned Flyers defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen showered his head coach with praise when he admitted that he wishes his NHL career had crossed paths with Tortorella earlier on.

"I wish I had him when I was 18 coming in the league," admitted Ristolainen. "I feel like I've taken big steps under him."

Ristolainen, who was selected 8th overall by the Buffalo Sabres at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, has largely been considered a bust relative to his draft pedigree throughout his NHL career but it is clear that he has taken steps towards improving his game since joining the ranks of the Flyers. Ristolainen will still likely never be the player the Sabres had hoped they were drafting, but there's no question that Tortorella has unlocked something within the Finnish forward that his previous coaches could not.