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Chuck Fletcher was somewhat judicious and reticent when asked for his thoughts on the NHL Department of Player Safety’s three-game suspension given to Joel Farabee.
Alain Vigneault did not hold back.
Farabee, a 19-year-old rookie, was handed a game misconduct for interference on Mathieu Perreault during the Flyers’ 7-3 defeat last Sunday to the Jets. Moments before he delivered his hard hit, Farabee was crosschecked from behind in front of Winnipeg’s net. His check came after Perreault passed the puck up the boards.
During the Flyers’ 4-3 win over the Senators on Dec. 7, Travis Konecny was drilled in open ice by 30-year-old Mark Borowiecki, a player with a history of suspensions. No penalty was called on the play and Borowiecki did not receive supplemental discipline.
Vigneault was left confounded after comparing both hits. When asked Tuesday if he was surprised by the number of games the NHL handed down on Farabee, the Flyers’ head coach said bluntly: “Yes.”
And he explained why:
“Initially on that play, if you watch it and if you listen to the explanation of the NHL, they say [Farabee] was pushed from behind. He was crosschecked from behind,” Vigneault said. “It should have been a penalty, we should have been going on the power play. The time between the puck being passed and the hit I think is 1.34 seconds, which is late. But T.K.’s one just a few days before that was 1.04. There’s .3-something seconds difference. One is nothing, one is a three-game suspension to a young man that has no history.
“Sometimes things are hard to figure out. You’ve just got to roll with it and deal with it. That’s the best explanation that I can give you.”
The Flyers, who were already undermanned at forward because of injuries, will miss Farabee all week — Tuesday vs. the Ducks (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP), Thursday vs. the Sabres (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and Saturday at the Senators (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).
“I’ve been in this game a long time, I’m not meaning this to sound flippant or anything, I don’t have an opinion. I don’t know,” Fletcher said. “[Head of the NHL Department of Player Safety George Parros] and his staff work hard, they look at these things and have the experience to know previous hits. I don’t spend the time to the level he does to really comment. Obviously it’s a blow for us. If anything, I think this road trip showed how competitive [Farabee] is. Certainly might be as competitive a hockey player as we have — a 175-pound 19-year-old kid.
“He certainly earned the respect of everybody in that room and from us. … That’s a blow for us to lose him for three games, but that’s hockey.”
On Tuesday night, the Flyers will at least see the return of Konecny, who missed the club’s 0-3-0 road trip with a concussion suffered on the hit from Borowiecki.
“I had the puck on my stick and he hit me,” Konecny, the Flyers’ leading scorer, said. “I wasn’t watching, I should know who’s on the ice at all times, you know that he’s definitely a player that’s going to take advantage of guys not looking. It’s my fault, I didn’t have my head up.
“Joel’s hit, it’s tough, it’s the NHL’s decision to make those calls. I feel like those two hits were a little different. I can’t really compare them.”