Bobby Farnham (Photo by Amy Johnson | © Rocket Sports Media) Mandatory Credit Required

by Joseph Whalen, Staff Writer, AHL Report

Bobby Farnham, Right Wing, UFA
January 29, 1989 | North Andover, Massachusetts, USA
5-10, 190 lbs. | Shoots Left

St. John’s, NL — Watching the St. John’s IceCaps more than 30 times this past season, I quickly got used to a few things: Charlie Lindgren’s dazzling nights between the pipes, Chris Terry’s patented power-play one-timer and Jacob de la Rose’s steady, reliable play. But there was one thing that was more consistent than those examples: Bobby Farnham’s relentless energy. I could not help but marvel at Farnham’s relentless energy viewing from  the press box at Mile One Center. 

I’ll admit that, coming into the season, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Farnham. I knew that he had racked up 200-plus penalty minutes twice in his AHL career, in 2012-’13 and 2014-’15. As a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils, Farnham had a reputation as a tough customer.

But then I watched him play.

I quickly learned that there was much more to Farnham’s game than the impression created by scanning the stats sheet. While it’s true that he can certainly hold his own when dropping the gloves, Farnham can also contribute when wearing them. His speed and elusiveness were impressive.

In a game pitting the IceCaps against the Providence Bruins back on November 27th, Farnham picked up the puck in the neutral zone and busted down the left side. He picked the top corner with a well-placed wrist shot over the shoulder of the Providence netminder, Malcolm Subban. Check out the 0:28 mark of the video below.

 

I quickly updated my notes on Farnham. It was clear that he is a player who can fight, skates like the wind, has good hands, and most importantly, will do all the little things necessary to win. These qualities quickly endeared him to the knowledgeable St. John’s fans. They have always appreciated hard-nosed players who brought their best effort every game.

And with Farnham, the effort WAS there every game. His relentless energy was on display without regard to the game score.

This consistent energy and effort made Farnham a staple of the IceCaps lineup and a reliable piece who coach Sylvain Lefebvre could deploy in any role. Farnham was a standout on the St. John’s penalty kill along with Max Friberg and De la Rose. The trio was heavily relied on to shutdown the opponent’s biggest offensive threats. Farnham and Friberg were masters of blocking shots.

I recall one instance when Farnham was caught on the wrong side of the ice on the penalty kill. Smartly Farham used his speed and hockey sense to close the gap laying out to block the shot. It was the kind of effort and sacrifice appreciated by fans in St. John’s and Farnham’s teammates.

These are just anecdotes. But the numbers will tell you that Farnham had a solid season in 2016-17. He posted professional career highs in goals, assists and points: 11 goals, 17 assists, 28 points in 71 games.

Despite his physical style of play, Farnham was durable, being one of only four players to suit up for more than 70 games with the IceCaps, along with Friberg, Daniel Audette and Brett Lernout. Farnham also had a three-game stint with the Canadiens in January.

While there were a few times when Farnham crossed the line in terms of taking an unnecessary penalty, he was more disciplined than some past seasons with just 136 penalty minutes. But that comes with the territory given that he’s a hard-hitting, energetic forward, playing the game with speed.

But even with those penalties, Farnham was extremely valuable. Whenever he was on the ice good things happened for the IceCaps. While his contribution did not always translate into goal production, Farnham impacted the game positively helping to generate more than his fair share of chances.

Bobby Farnham (Photo by Amy Johnson | © Rocket Sports Media) Mandatory Credit Required

Down the stretch when the IceCaps were on their march to the post-season, Farnham found himself playing with Audette at centre and Yannick Veilleux on the left side. This was an effective trio for coach Lefebvre as Farnham’s speed and puck retrieval  complemented Veilleux’s size and Audette’s skill. This line was used at times during the playoffs and maintained their effectiveness. In Game 2, it was Veilleux who had come just inches away from giving the IceCaps a commanding 2-0 series lead against the eventual Calder Cup runner-up Syracuse Crunch.

Farnham is a prime example of a player who can only be fully appreciated by watching him play. Focusing on a subset of numbers do not describe his value. My own impressions evolved quite quickly as I began to appreciate his dedication and work ethic. Bobby Farnham is much more than just a pesky, agitating forward.

In the final year for the IceCaps in St. John’s there were several players that caught my eye: Charlie Lindgren, Nikita Scherbak and Charles Hudon to name a few. But Bobby Farnham will stand out in my memory of the farewell season. He made it known that the fans and city of St. John’s have a special place in his heart and it is safe to say, he in theirs.