Farabee optimistic about possible opening night start

Joel Farabee

VOORHEES, N.J. – When Joel Farabee underwent surgery on his neck during the offseason, it was thought he wouldn’t be ready for Flyers action until late autumn.

Guess who was in a doctor’s office on Thursday afternoon anticipating clearance to resume contact hockey once again?

No official word of that examination has been released yet but all signs point to a good prognosis.

So the 22-year-old wing could be ready for the season opener against the New Jersey Devils next Thursday.

Needless to say, that would be good news for the Flyers, a team which can use all the offensive firepower it can get, especially with star players such as Sean Couturier and Ryan Ellis on the sideline for the forseeable future.

Farabee has been taking part in training camp for the better part of two weeks, albeit with almost no hitting involved.

You can tell he’s anxious to get out there, especially with a new coach behind the bench and some optimism on it.

Once Farabee gets the medical green light, it all comes down to whether head coach John Tortorella and his staff believe the New York state native can play.

“I feel a hundred percent,’’ Farabee said after Thursday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center. “Just getting that contact in and the timing down is the biggest thing.

“It (the surgery) is not in the back of my mind. So I’m definitely ready to play.’’

In a situation as sensitive as this, mental awareness (and toughness) come into play.

“I probably had those thoughts (of doubt) about a month after surgery,’’ Farabee said. “When I was rehabbing through it. Now that we’re at the end of the four months here, I feel really confident. The guys here have been great. I’ve been working real hard, getting my weight back up, so no issues.’’

Farabee is only the third NHL player to have this type of surgery. One of the other two is star player Jack Eichel, drafted by Buffalo No. 1 overall and now with Vegas.

“I got Jack’s number from ‘Hayesy’ (Kevin Hayes),’’ Farabee said. “I had a little conversation with him this summer, just asking him everything about it. He was really insightful, gave me some good tips. It was really cool to be able to connect with a guy like that.

“I was a little nervous heading into the process but talking to him made me feel a lot better.’’

Tortorella makes it sound like Farabee is fully ready to go.

“I’ve been encouraged by Joel right from the get-go,’’ Tortorella said. “Today was kind of his first practice of full stuff. He got banged around a little bit. I thought the whole group practiced well, Joel being one of them.’’

>Atkinson still out

Cam Atkinson continues to recover from an injury and Tortorella said he doesn’t want to push the timeline for his return.

“I think we’re still going to give him a few days here,’’ the coach said. “I kind of leave it up to the training staff. We still have a number of days before Thursday. So we’re just going to leave him alone. With him, he has conditioning because he has done skating along the way. We just want to give him a little bit more time.’’

>Fluid situation

Followers of the Flyers should probably not put a lot of stock in the opening night lineup and then think of it as an 82-game fixture.

Tortorella believes there are as many as seven or eight positions up for grabs and if one or more players can’t cut it, chances are replacements from the Phantoms will be considered.

“It’s a total fluid situation here, as far as coming and going,’’ Tortorella said. “No one’s locked in. We have to keep in mind waivers. It’s such a great training league down there, the American (Hockey) League to develop a pro. It could change each and every day.’’

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About Wayne Fish 2446 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.