You are 21 years old. You are told that you will receive $3.7 million over the next three years. Summer is coming. What are you doing?

This situation, presented to the vast majority of the inhabitants of this planet (athletes included!), is material to arouse responses as crazy as they are unusual, where madness, excess and abundance act as central themes. But there are always exceptions…

For Canadiens forward Sean Farrell, who played his first six games in the National Hockey League (NHL) at the end of last season, the scenario outlined at the top of the article turned into reality on the 26 March. That day, he put his signature to the bottom of the very first professional contract of his hockey career. Duration: three years. Value: $3,775,000.

And how did he plan his summer?

1. He took his last college courses and officially graduated from Harvard University with an economics degree (we’ll get to that later, but what a fabulous achievement!).

2. He added six pounds of muscle to his figure.

3. He replayed himself in the lead and put into practice the various advice received from the Canadiens’ coaches at the end of the most recent campaign, then modified important elements of his training, improving his physical qualities at the same time.

“Honestly, things are not at all different with this contract, confided recently Farrell during a long telephone interview. This summer, I led exactly the same life as before the signing of the agreement. I spent on food and workouts, but I was doing this before. I bought absolutely nothing crazy. If there are people happy that I signed this contract, they are my parents. They no longer have to pay my expenses (laughs)!

“In fact, he continues, my summer routine can be summed up quite easily. I got up at 6:30 a.m. then went to the gym. I trained for a few hours, skated a bit and came home. I then took a 3 hour course. When it was over, I tried to move my school work forward as long as possible, then I went to bed, because I had to start again the next day!

Military discipline, nothing less.

So this is the life of the rich and famous? Usually, no.

But it is despite everything the approach chosen by Sean Farrell in his quest for success. An already very profitable approach that could very well make the difference again in the not so distant future.

“It’s pretty crazy, when you think about it”

To say that the young man’s last year has been a busy one is absolutely an understatement.

The CH’s 2020 fourth-round pick was the NCAA’s first Imperial, scoring 53 points, including 20 goals, in 34 games. That total was the second most convincing on the league behind Adam Fantilli, who the Blue Jackets selected via the third overall pick in the last draft.

At the end of March, Farrell’s season came to an end. He signed his contract with Montreal, then played his first six games in the NHL, scoring one goal.

“Things happened so fast! I was playing at Harvard and the following week I was playing my first game with the Canadiens. It’s pretty crazy when you think about it. »

Martin Chevalier / JdeM

It must be said that the changes involved in such a transition are drastic. On the ice… and off it.

“I lived alone in a hotel room near the Bell Center. I must admit, it was very different from what I had known for three years in university, where I shared everything with six roommates. For meals, I tried to eat as often as possible via the facilities of the Canadians, where excellent dishes are offered to us. But otherwise, I had it delivered to the hotel or I stopped at different restaurants and ordered on the spot.

“Honestly, it took me a few weeks to realize what I was going through, but also to feel comfortable alongside all these professionals. All in all, this period has been absolutely crazy. But it was also quite a challenge.

Well received by three specific players

Fortunately, insists the skater, the reception of the organization on his arrival in town was sublime. Asked about this, he also cites three players who particularly and quickly put him at ease.

“Cole (Caufield), whom I already knew, was the first to write to me. Nick Suzuki and Chris Wideman were next. They transported me all over town and made me feel good. I am very grateful to them. Everyone in the locker room has been fantastic.

“I also appreciated the approach of the coaches. They asked me from the start not to fear mistakes and not to change my style. Well, it’s true that any young player will have a little trouble applying this advice at first, but the simple fact of feeling that the coaches were open to daring and did not want to misrepresent me helped me a lot.

Hearing Farrell praise the attitude of the coaches towards him opens a very big door: how is the collaboration with Martin St-Louis going? The attacker admits to having been marked by several things, but one of them stands out.

“I remember a morning practice before a game against the Maple Leafs where I was not playing. I was in overtime and Martin came out of nowhere and started trying to get the puck from me. He then did some exercises with me, and then we talked. He helped me a lot. He’s one of my childhood idols and learning from him is extremely special. »

Recommendations from CH to Farrell

You read Farrell’s comments above where he talked about “time to feel comfortable” and “challenge” upon arriving in Montreal. Let’s be frank: such a statement is not so surprising, in the context where the small striker, despite some good flashes during his first three games in the tricolor uniform, did not particularly shine. And he is the first to recognize it.

“At the beginning, I was very nervous and I didn’t keep the puck like I always did. I rushed my actions. But the more the matches followed, the more comfortable I was. I started making more and more games towards the end. Overall, I’m very happy to have gained this experience in the NHL. It allowed me to understand what I had to work on this summer.

Photo: AFP

Because at the end of the season, the coaches and him had a good discussion.

“I was told to take strength to feel better during the duels for obtaining the puck. With more power, I was told I would be able to do better at puck protection and create more plays in the offensive zone.

“I weigh now…”

From the end of this meeting, Farrell had only one thing in mind: to meet the demands of his bosses. It is therefore with the words of the staff of CH instructors in mind that the young man began his summer training. And the results, he humbly tells us, are there.

“My training has been dedicated to gaining muscle mass and developing my raw power. I also worked a lot on the strength of my abs and my center of gravity. Finally, my explosion on skates and my cardiovascular endurance provided many sessions.

“I made sure to eat plenty and incorporated more protein into my diet. All this, coupled with the energy invested in the gym, allowed me to put on six kilos of muscle. I now weigh about 180 pounds.

A phenomenal achievement

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023 features 1,799 universities in 104 countries and regions. It is, to date, the most diverse exercise of its kind.

The final ranking is based on 13 performance indicators that measure an institution’s performance in four areas: teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. Solid what?

Why this little non-sporting preamble at the heart of a hockey article? Quite simply because Harvard University, where Sean Farrell has been studying for three years, is second in this prestigious ranking.

And Farrell had great news for us during our interview.

“I took my last courses this summer and… I’m going to graduate in economics in November! It’s great, because I won’t have to stress about all that anymore…”

Many college hockey players choose to put their studies on hold when they join the ranks of an NHL team before the end of their school career, promising themselves to “finish it all later”.

For Farrell, this option was never considered. He will therefore be able, in three years please (!), to get his hands on his diploma despite a most atypical schedule and despite the extremely high academic standards of Harvard University.

“When I decided to join Harvard, the idea was always to go all the way. To have managed to do it in three years is very special for me. I will receive the diploma by mail, but I would like, if the situation in hockey allows me, to attend the graduation ceremony which will take place next year. It would be special.

When asked where this impressive rigor comes from, the dynamic left winger goes with this answer.

“I always had it easy at school. And my parents never pressured me. They reminded me that it was important to be diligent and academically serious, but they explained why and their support has always been very healthy. They told me that I was naturally gifted and that success would come if I put in the effort.

A clear objective

And as you just read, hard work has never been a problem for Farrell. After graduating, he is now aiming for another great accomplishment, but this time as a hockey player: moving to CH and… contributing to it.

“I knew the hotel. Now my goal is to do well at camp so I can eventually find my home in Montreal and stay there.

“There will definitely be a lot of talented players fighting for a few positions and everyone will have the same goal. But at the same time, it will be up to me to show that I am capable of playing with all these guys.

And how does he see his future with the team, precisely?

“I’ve always been an attack-generating playmaker. The NHL is the best league in the world, but I think that by continuing to develop my strength and my speed, my instinct will allow me to contribute offensively with Montreal. I work hard on this. I also watch a lot of videos. At the end of the day, I want to be a player that the team uses everywhere.

Photo: AFP

When the CH drafted Farrell in 2020, Cole Caufield did not hesitate to qualify his selection of “theft”, via his Twitter account. The two young men had previously rubbed shoulders for two seasons in the American development program.

In conclusion, how about a little curveball?

“A playmaker like you and a goalscorer like Cole… You’ve known each other for a long time. What do you think of the idea, one of these days, of an association between you two on the same line?

“I would really like to play with Cole,” Farrell replies with a smile in his voice. Every moment he touches the puck turns into a scoring opportunity, it seems. He is a player and a special person. But at the same time, I have to start by carving out a regular place for myself in the team.

One thing is certain: this summer, he gave everything to achieve it. He also secured his future by getting his hands on a prestigious degree.

Whatever happens next, Sean Farrell won.


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