For a lot of the Panthers prospects Development Camp was a golden opportunity to make a name for themselves. For right winger John McFarland however, it was a much different experience.
McFarland underwent shoulder surgery in February, making him unable to finish his season with the Ottawa 67’s, and unable to practice with his fellow prospects at development camp at the beginning of July.
“It was a long couple of months, and obviously the first six weeks were the toughest being in a sling,” said McFarland who recorded 24 goals with 26 assists in 49 games in a season split between Saginaw and Ottawa. “But everything’s going well now. I feel great and I feel actually like I haven’t in a couple of years.
“It feels good and I’m looking forward to camp in September.”
When McFarland tore his shoulder in early February, it was a very rough time for him. But this was not the first time that McFarland had experienced hardship in his hockey career. He’s already been traded twice in his young career and that followed his draft experience.
It is no secret that the 2010 NHL Draft didn’t go as McFarland planned. For much of his hockey career, McFarland was striving to be a first round pick, but to many people’s surprise that was not the case, especially with the talent that the forward possesses. However, this did not put him down for long; in fact it only motivated him to work that much harder.
McFarland knew that he had to prove a lot of people wrong, that he was first-round pick material, and that he had what it takes to be a successful NHL player. And although he was disappointed at first, he was really happy with the way everything turned out in the end. He wouldn’t be in Florida if he hadn’t dropped out of the first round, and McFarland is happy that he did.
The Richmond Hill, Ont. native believes that his speed and his shot are the two things that will allow him to “crack the lineup soon”, and advance him to the next level. However he admitted that there are a lot of things he needs to work on as well.
“If you’re not in the NHL, then it’s every part of your game that you want to get better in, and make sure you get to the next level,” he said. “So right now I’m focusing on everything and trying to get better in each and every area.”
Playing hockey is McFarland’s life and he is going to do everything it takes to enhance his game and his consistency. He believes that the most rewarding thing about playing hockey is coming to the rink every day and hanging out with the guys. In his eyes, hockey is not much of a job, and that there is no better feeling than being around your teammates.
In 2008, at age 16, McFarland made his OHL debut with the Sudbury Wolves. Playing hockey at this level at a very young age would seem as an intimidating experience to most, but for the forward it was something he was very much prepared for. When it was his time to advance to the next level, hockey had already been his life for a very long time, and he just knew it was something he was going to do.
One of McFarland’s proudest hockey moments was when he was named captain at the Ivan Hlinka U-18 tournament, in which he scored four goals and added an assist.
“It was awesome. Anytime you get to wear the ‘C’ for your country and to play for your country alone is an honor,” said McFarland. “We were able to win gold too, which was nice. It was a good feeling, and like I said it was an honor. It was something I’ll never forget.”
McFarland is a determined, aspiring NHL player that does not let things such as his shoulder injury and being dropped in the first round of the draft get in the way of his dreams.
The forward hopes to come back strong during pre-season camp as he tries to bounce back from injury and all the adversity that has come his way.