Injuries are a part of every sport. Sometimes a player gets hit with so many injuries that he becomes “injury prone”. You are actually more surprised when they are in the lineup than out of it. Sometimes, you can see injuries coming. Other times, they’re a surprise. Such was the case last year with Philadelphia Flyers forward Joel Farabee.
After a strong, COVID-shortened, 2020-21 sophomore campaign in which he scored 20 goals, Farabee took a small step back the following season with 17 goals with 17 assists. To be fair, the whole Flyers team took a step back as their coach, Alain Vigneault, was fired, and the Flyers then recorded one of their worsts seasons ever.
Still, Farabee was expected to be an important cog in the Flyers’ machine for the 2022-23 campaign. However, his neck had other ideas. During an offseason workout, Farabee injured his neck and required surgery. The Flyers were completely taken by surprise at the suddenness of the injury. At the time, it was expected that he’d miss some time. However, he missed most of training camp, but still managed to make the opening night roster.
He missed all of his normal offseason conditioning work, and he missed most of training camp. Despite being one of three players for Philadelphia to appear in all 82 games, Farabee never seemed to get it going. While he had put up a career-high in points (39), good for seventh on the team, his goal total fell to just 15; his lowest since his rookie year.
Now that he is healthy, Farabee is looking to put last year behind him and start off strong. He recently sat down for an interview for NHL.com, where he expressed a lot of optimism for what this year will hold. More importantly, he is excited to be healthy and ready to go.
"“When you have the full offseason to work out, I feel like you just have that extra jump in your legs or a little extra energy…you feel a lot better. … Just having that whole offseason to work out, your body’s just in a way better place to endure a long season….Obviously, my weight probably wasn’t where I wanted it to be at during the season, but in terms of playing I felt fine. I feel like probably after the first 20 games I started to feel a lot better. First month of the season was really tough; [I] didn’t really work on my conditioning as much as I probably would have liked last year, but this summer has been great. I’ve been working out a lot, so [I’m] definitely feeling good now.”"
Not only that, but Farabee feels confident about the Flyers this season:
"From what I’ve read on Twitter and stuff like that, everyone’s got us dead last, we’re finishing bottom-five. I really don’t think we’re going to be that bad at all. I think we have a really good young group of forwards. I think you saw that at the end of last year, how some guys took over, ‘Frosty’ (Morgan Frost), ‘Tip’ (Owen Tippett). I think we’re going to be a pretty tough team to beat. I think there’s never an easy night in Philly when you’re playing us. I think we’re going to be a lot better than people expect.”"
A healthy Farabee will be as valuable to this team as a healthy Sean Couturier and/or Cam Atkinson. The 23 year old is expected to be a vital part of this team’s future. If he can score 25 goals, especially playing alongside a veteran like Travis Konecny or Atkinson, or a rising star like Frost or Tippett, the Flyers could easily move some close losses over into the win column.
It will never be known how badly Farabee’s injury affected his play and, therefore, the overall play of the Flyers. If, however, he is healthy and ready to do battle on the ice with his teammates, then the Flyers would be in a much better place to compete. Farabee could also step into more of a leadership role and help to mentor some of the younger players who could be coming up from the Phantoms. At this point, anything he can do to help will be a great service to the team.