I almost don't even know where to start. I wish you all could have seen the look on my face when I read that the Penguins were seriously thinking of keeping Bobby Farnham on the roster. I was not near a mirror at the time, but I imagine it looked something like this:
I'll admit it... When Farnham first came up from the AHL, I drank the Kool-Aid as did many Penguins fans. I thought that his fast paced, "Hit everything that skates and try to fight it" style of hockey was cool and fun to watch. But then I realized that's the only kind of hockey he can play at the NHL level, and not very well might I add. I will also admit, I am not an Advanced Stats expert by any means. However, I know that Bobby Farnham's 738th ranked CF% Rel (-6.2) out of 780 total players in the NHL isn't a very good thing. For what it's worth, he was 650th out of 780 players (44.8). That's an improvement, right? Don't believe me, look here.
I was reading an article on Penguins.com written by Sam Kasan when I decided to put this post together, so I will include their analysis of Farnham and include my thoughts to it. But before you continue reading I want to disclaim that this in no way is a knock on Sam K. or anyone else inside that organization. Well, excluding Bobby Farnham anyways.
* Farnham, 26, is an energy player that can cause havoc when he’s on the ice. His unique blend of speed, intensity and agitation is something that no one else on the Pens’ roster possesses. He goes all out on every shift, plays with a reckless abandon and draws a lot of penalties – where Johnston has been using him on the kill because of that speed he possesses. Farnham seems to really get other teams off their game. Whether it’s them jawing at him post-whistle or keeping their eye on him every time he steps on the ice, Farnham’s presence can be a distraction to other teams. He only played two preseason games due to injury, but the coaching staff knows what he brings and it looks like that's something they want on the roster here in Pittsburgh.
With Fehr and Kuhnhackl injured, the Pens are down to their group of 13 forwards. So now it’s going to be a matter of figuring out the line combinations and building chemistry over the next 4-5 days of practice heading into the season opener on Oct. 8 in Dallas.
Reading this made me die on the inside a little. I don't have the direct quote in front of me, but didn't Mike Johnston say himself that he wanted four scoring lines and he had no use for a guy whose sole purpose is to run around like a sugar-rushed child inside of a Chuck-E-Cheese? If you want four scoring lines, Farnham is not your guy. As far as Farnham getting opposing players off their game, probably. I can see how that can be true. However, this goes back to that "philosophy" I keep hearing about saying that Mike Johnston wants four scoring lines. If you score goals, I'd say that could get some teams off their game. This brings me to my favorite part of the article. The part where the Penguins staff confirms their player bias without even trying to hide it. "He only played two preseason games due to injury but the staff knows what he brings..." I would understand if we were talking about a player who has been with the team regularly for a few years, but Farnham is a fringe player with limited experience and basically kept around just because they like him. That's the same thought process behind the Penguins keeping the corpse of Craig Adams on the roster the last few years. Let me reiterate, his roster spot was solidified based on past performance in just eleven regular season games. Instead of a young player like Oskar Sundqvist or Derrick Pouliot, we're gonna instead elect to go with the 26 year-old Philadelphia Flyers punching bag.
"But Bobby Farnham can fight!1!" Really, can he? I know he can initiate fights, but winning them? Not so much. At this point, I know it's nitpicking and who wins a fight isn't necessarily important or a way to gauge a player's success or importance. But this misconception of Farnham being a good fighter in the NHL is based on zero merit. Sure, he beat Brenden Morrow the week before he moved into his retirement home, and held his own against "Soft as Play-Doh" Jordan Leopold. But when he fought McCleod and Bellemare, they put him in his place.
Like I said, nitpicking. But if Bobby Farnham can't score or fight, he is literally only on the ice to run around hitting people "getting them off their game." That sure doesn't sound like the new direction the Penguins supposedly wanted to go. Sounds like a good ol' boys club that Rob Scuderi has benefited from since returning to Pittsburgh. In fact, it sounds a lot like the last regime.