Joel Farabee has some unfinished business to take care of and says it doesn’t matter if that happens in front of 20,000 screaming fans or a bunch of empty seats.
The Flyers’ rookie left wing put up some decent numbers in an up-and-down first season but sort of laments failing to finish on a number of blue-chip scoring chances.
No one knows for sure if Farabee will get a chance to build on his eight goals/21 points (plus-6) performance, given the current health crisis situation.
But the 20-year-old Cicero, N.Y. native, like many of his teammates, would just like the chance to complete the 2019-20 season, even if it winds up being sort of a made-for-TV-only event.
“Obviously I don’t think we’ve ever done that (played in empty arenas) before,’’ Farabee said in a media conference call on Thursday. “ So it would definitely be a little different. But at the end of the day, we just want to play hockey. If we can play with no fans, we’ll do it.
“I think the biggest thing is just waiting until government officials say it’s safe for us to go back out and do what we love.’’
Enough motivation in such a quiet setting, Farabee contended, probably wouldn’t be a problem.
“Maybe a little bit but we’re professional hockey players,’’ he said. “It’s our job to get up for games like that. I think we know that the games are being broadcast and a lot of people will be watching anyway so I don’t think it would be too big of a problem to get up for games like that but it would definitely be a big change.’’
In many respects, it’s been a “memorable’’ rookie season for Farabee.
It began in training camp, when he made it all the way through to the final cut, actually accompanying the team to Switzerland for an exhibition game against local club Lausanne before he was scratched for the season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks in Prague, Czech Republic.
He went down to the Phantoms but returned just a few weeks later for a game against the Vegas Golden Knights on Oct. 21.
“Probably when I look back on my career, my rookie season will be the most interesting,’’ said Farabee, who spent the previous year playing for Boston University. “All in all, it was a really cool experience to be able to go to Europe. I had a lot of fun on that trip.
“Right now, with the coronavirus going around, it’s kind of a crazy time. I was talking to my family the other day and saying that one day we’re going to be in a history book about how the coronavirus stopped the whole world, basically. It’s definitely a strange time, I know a lot of guys are looking forward to getting back and playing hockey again.’’
Farabee easily could have 12 to 15 goals right now. He hit a bunch of posts and on some nights opposing goalies simply stood on their heads to block his shots.
“The way I look at it, to be able to play as many games as I did this year is a positive for me,’’ he said. “If we finish this year, or even going into next year, I think I would like to be able to produce a little bit more. I had a lot of chances this year but some of them just didn’t go in.
“Hopefully with the summer to get stronger and bigger, I think some of those chances will get finished next year. All you can do is get better from one year to the next. That’s what I plan on doing.’’
When hockey returns, there’s a better than likely chance the Flyers won’t be playing in the Wells Fargo Center, but rather at a neutral site.
Farabee knows the Flyers would be losing a bit of an advantage if that happens. Philadelphia was leading the NHL in home wins with 25 when play was stopped on March 12.
“It’s just playing in our own arena with our fans. . .we have some of the most passionate fans in the whole NHL,’’ he said. “Playing in front of them gives us a lot of energy. We want to play well for them. I think just the fans and the comfortability of being home, having your own routine really helps guys out and me, personally.’’