This is hardly a storybook ending for John McFarland's junior tenure, unless your parents introduced you to Edgar Allen Poe at age four.
When McFarland was acquired by the Ottawa 67's five weeks ago, it seemed like a great symbiotic matchup of a player and a core group starved for tangible success, the playoff kind, namely. Whether the 67's can win the big one this spring remains open, but they will have to do without the Ontario Hockey League's former No. 1 pick.
McFarland, whose junior tenure has been so star-crossed that this almost seemed like an inevitability, is out for the season after the Florida Panthers determined that the 19-year-old will need season-ending surgery. This comes in the wake of a week where the Niagara IceDogs leap-frogged Ottawa for the Eastern Conference lead with 15 games left.
From Don Campbell:
McFarland, the speedy winger selected first overall in the 2008 Ontario Hockey League draft, will undergo shoulder surgery later this week in Southern Florida to repair a tear.
McFarland, the second round pick (33rd overall) of the Florida Panthers in 2010, left the 67's Sunday to have team doctors with the Florida Panthers examine what had become a nagging shoulder injury.
The bad news came Tuesday when doctors scheduled the fast-skating McFarland for immediate surgery with a prognosis for recovery at up to four months.
... "It is a very tough break for John knowing how much he wanted to help our team make a good push down the stretch and into the playoff's," said 67's head coach and GM Chris Byrne. "John is a quality player and person and will be a good pro player down the line." (Ottawa Citizen)
Getting a shoulder fixed might have too much bearing on McFarland's prospects next season with the Panthers organization, which already has him under contract. This is only the end as far as his junior days go, notwithstanding the outside chance he could return for an overage season.
Still, it is a bitter end. McFarland's skill is without question and one has to believe every player makes his own luck, but his has been exceptionally poor. He was hailed as a saviour in '08 when the Wolves drafted him. He attended Canada's national junior selection in his age-17 season. Within 12 months from that date, he had slid out of the first round of the NHL draft and required a change of scenery in the OHL. The Wolves, rather than Saginaw Spirit, won that deal since centre Michael Sgarbossa (147 points in 85 games) has outscored McFarland (87 in 97) since that deal was completed. Each of McFarland's first two teams had a coaching change while he was the organization, too. .
Meantime, the 67's have lost two of three games since McFarland was hurt. The only win was over a Belleville team which they've owned for a couple seasons. Losing three games in a row to teams which could all miss the playoffs (Kingston in the game when McFarland was injured, Peterborough and Guelph) was bad. This is worse.
The Oshawa Generals are 17 points behind Ottawa in the East Division with 13 games to play, so the 67's are pretty much assured of being at least the No. 2 seed for the playoffs. However, they hail from a division whose four other teams are all in the bottom half of the conference. That invites questions of how well they can hold up in a playoff series, especially as a team that has only been past the first round once in the past five seasons.
McFarland, in the short time he was in the black and red, did seem to give extra juice to Ottawa's attack. A lot of teams would love to have two of the league's top-five scorers such as Tyler Toffoli and Shane Prince and a stud centre such as Sean Monahan. However, this loss means Ottawa might not be deep enough to stick with Niagara across a seven-game series.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: OHL Images).