Everyone loves a good underdog story, and there’s none better than Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin.
On Wednesday, May 3, the heartbreaking news that was the feared outcome was confirmed, Samuel Morin’s playing career is over due to knee injuries. Morin, who underwent a procedure in September to “clean up” loose bodies in his knee only skate twice before practice during the season. His absence after afterwards pointed towards a grim future for his career.
Morin had the deck stacked against him from the moment he was drafted into the Flyers organization. He was drafted 11th overall in 2013. His stock rose leading up to the draft and was expected to go late in the first round or early in the second, so when Paul Holmgren stepped to the podium and picked him just outside the top 10, it felt like a reach. Then he drew comparisons to Chris Pronger, one of the greatest defenseman of all time, and a player who had just retired due to post-concussion issues a year-and-a-half earlier, talk about big shoes to fill. It was a preconceived notion about Morin that to this day he is unable to shake from portions of the fanbase.
After his second torn ACL in fall of 2019, He penned a note that he released on social media that said “I am fully aware that this is an enormous mountain to climb but I know I have the drive and mindset to overcome this setback”
And fight back he did.
Not only did he play defenseman during his career, he had a brief run as a forward, too. The start of the 2020-21 season saw Morin move to left wing to carve out NHL minutes with the blueline packed. Although it was a short-lived experiment, it gave the coaching staff enough faith to move him back to defense for a semi-regular role to end the season.
After being yoyo’d between the NHL, AHL and taxi squad to start the 2020-21 season, Morin returned to the Flyers’ lineup as the team was hitting rock bottom against the Rangers on March 25. He played well from a defensive perspective and even KO’d Brendan Lemieux in a fight late in the game. He ultimately got fined for the fight, and Lemieux got traded to the Kings two days later, probably out of sheer embarrassment.
His first and only NHL goal came on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of the worst stretch of hockey the Flyers had ever played. It was a game winning goal at 15:33 of the third period against the New York Rangers. It was celebrated on the ice by Shayne Gostisbehere, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Scott Laughton, three teammates that he spent the most time with during their days in Lehigh Valley. For a moment nothing else mattered. The exuberance that flowed on the ice was a level of excitement that hasn’t been felt in the Wells Fargo Center in years.
2,827 days after he was drafted he scored his first NHL goal. The man who had overcome two ACL tears in 19 months, got called up and sent down more times than one can count, was written off as a real option from most of the fanbase, transitioned to forward, returned to defense and scored a goal which stood as the game winner that ended a stretch of some of the worst hockey in Philadelphia Flyers franchise history.
Morin will finish his career with 29 NHL games with one goal and 45 penalty minutes to his name. Though for his perseverance to always overcome the odds, and dedication to his style of play, he deserved so much more.
From your number one fan- Thank you Samuel Morin.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nbcsports.com