- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Defenseman Mike Farrell was minding his own business, skating along with the minor leaguers in Portland, Maine, when the late draft choice (220th overall in 1998) was approached by a Washington Capitals official.
Would you consider switching to a forward position, he was asked.
Farrell, an all-star defenseman in Hockey East while playing for Providence College, thought about the proposal for a microsecond and asked a question of his own:
"What's the quickest way to Washington?"
Barring a total collapse, Farrell has arrived. He's a right wing who is unsure who his linemates will be but pretty certain of his teammates.
"I'm pleased with a lot of things but I think I've still got a lot of things to prove," he said. "I think I've played well, produced a little bit (two goals, three points in four games) but I still don't think I've shown them my true 'A' game and hopefully I can bring that in during the next few games."
As a defenseman, his game was his size (6 feet, 225 pounds) and strength. For two years he was the strongest player in camp (measured by pressing weights). He could and would defend his goalie's crease with intimidating force.
But what caught the attention of coaches and managers was his speed, among the fastest in the league. This season, if rules are enforced as the league vows, speed could well be the difference between winning and losing.
"I felt that I've shown them my speed but I don't think I've shown them all the things I'm capable of doing," Farrell said. "My physical play has been lacking a little bit and I want to turn that up. I know I'm not going to be a goal-scorer in the NHL, I'll be a power wing. So I have to work on my physical game."
Farrell, a native of Edina, Minn., who now lives in Indiana, knew that speed would be his ticket to the NHL. It is something he works on with drills designed to make him faster.
"I've been using the routine I learned in college," he said. "I try to work on quickness and speed and explosiveness. When I start my program, I feel slow and sluggish but as it goes on I feel I'm getting quicker and stronger. It's a program called Acceleration where you get on a treadmill and there are different kinds of rubber bands attached to your legs with different tension. It works on your quickness and explosiveness and I believe you can improve your quickness and agility through training."
Caps coach, Bruce Cassidy, gives Farrell high marks.
"I like his speed, his resiliency on the puck," Cassidy said. "He finishes his checks. He gives you energy. Away from the puck he's been OK. I heard he might be a project but he's been fine. He's a threat because of his speed."
"He's a lot like Jeff Halpern was two years ago," said general manager George McPhee. "He's just played so hard and so well that you just have to give him a chance to play. He brings great speed and he's been physical. He is a converted defenseman so it has taken him some time to learn the position. The league is more complicated now than it's ever been so when you have to learn a new position and new systems, it takes time."
Farrell left Providence after his junior year but goes back every summer to finish up on a business degree. He gave himself three seasons to make it to the NHL and this is his third season.
Notes A Caps spokesman said late yesterday there had been no communication between holdout forwards Andrei Nikolishin and Dainius Zubrus since Friday. The Caps' season opener is in 11 days. The spokesman said negotiations are ongoing with agents for two rookies, defenseman Steve Eminger and wing Boyd Gordon. Center Halpern tested his tender groin muscle for just a few minutes yesterday morning then went back to the training room. He hasn't played since he tore up a knee in January.


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