New Jersey Devils

Bobby Farnham is the Devils’ “Wild Thing”

(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

The New Jersey Devils have won ten of their last 13 contests heading into their three game Western Canada road trip. One of the underrated reasons is Bobby Farnham. Now the forward will never be confused with Gordie Howe but there is this sense that he just has this ability to simply be a team player who can contribute occasionally. The reality is he is so much more.

One of the biggest issues with Farnham when he was in the Pittsburgh organization was his lack of skating ability. However, a few games into 2015-16, it became clear that the forward was not part of the plans of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Subsequently, he was waived. Ray Shero saw an opportunity and for the low price of $575,000 (pro-rated), it was worth a shot.

The fun part of this is under the John Hynes’ system, Farnham was definitely right at home as the winger had played under Hynes before in Wilkes-Barre Scranton. That familiarity and knowing his role was defined were big helps in how the forward has approached his time in New Jersey.

All Farnham did in his first game with New Jersey was score a goal and an assist in fourth line ice time. He did this against the New York Islanders, mind you. So far, hehas been an awfully big hit in New Jersey. The Devils are 5-2 in his first seven games in the Devils lineup. He has shown an ability to rally and rile the home crowd up.

Then someone picked up on a song that seems to suit the crashing forward perfectly. You may have heard this one before.

Naturally when it came time for Farnham to play the Penguins, you almost knew what was going to happen. He was a thorn in the side of Penguins players all night. Then in an appropriate twist of fate, Farnham scored the third Jersey goal of the night which pretty much sealed the game. When “Wild Thing” blared at the Prudential Center, the crowd lost it. It really started to feel like the old days.

The forward really reminds old time Devils fans and writers of Mike Peluso. Peluso was part of the famed “Crash Line” of the mid 1990’s. Granted, times have changed and “enforcers/muckers” have been slowly phased out, but there is still a place for fourth liners who can skate a little while providing hitting and energy.

The personality of Peluso is kind of strong in Farnham. Does he go a little overboard in this day and age? Maybe a bit. However, this Devils team had become so stale over the past few seasons that a little enthusiasm goes a long way.

One of the best home games this year had to be the game against the Vancouver Canucks where Farnham mixed it up with several Canucks players. He might have even clocked a semi defenseless player along the way in a mini-fight. His reaction was straight out of the Peluso playbook. We had the shoulder windup with a little “Guitar Hero” like flair. That physicality was sorely missing, even with Jordan Tootoo in the lineup. The extra enthusiasm never hurts but the edge and fan endearment has been clear from day one.

Ultimately, New Jersey went on to win that game 4-3 in overtime and Adam Henrique credited Farnham with raising the crowd level up. People forget that this is a pretty smart guy. He did go to Brown University, and yet his hockey persona and off ice persona are balanced very well. This is a player that seems to have a knack of how other players tick and what may or may not push them over the edge.

Claude Lemieux was a professor of that very art and maybe Lemieux went over the line a bit much. Farnham is a little different, but no doubt he does play some mind games out there besides what you actually see on the ice. We have seen it already and surely we will see it again and again. The forward does have bottom six NHL talent, despite what some in Pittsburgh think. Hynes so far has used the player masterfully.

Farnham’s advanced statistics are almost irrelevant only because of the minutes he does play. His possession metrics are a good bit below average (nearly 8% lower than team norms). Everyone talks about intangibles and the such. Actually the forward brings something much more. He brings the kids, fans, and even writers alike a joy that has not been seen in these parts for some time. Just let the fun times roll and cue up a little “Wild Thing” for the road.

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