As the 2021-22 NHL season came to an end for the Philadelphia Flyers, some unfortunate news followed, as defenseman Sam Morin will be forced to retire following a series of knee injuries over the course of his career. Morin battled multiple ACL tears, which ultimately caused him to miss the entirety of this season with continued problems in his right knee. As a result of the lingering knee injuries, he made the tough decision to hang up the skates and retire at the age of 26 years old.
“He won’t be able to return to play, unfortunately,” said Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher. “He’s had too many knee injuries, he’s not going to be in a position to continue his career. This offseason, we’ll sit down with Sam and see if there’s something that he would like to do going forward.”
“Just wanted to give him some time, it’s been a long road for him,” Fletcher said. “It’s very emotional when you see your career slipping away because of things you can’t control.”
Morin was drafted 11th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft by the Flyers. He was expected to be a major part of the team’s defensive core, but injuries had other ideas. He quickly became a fan favorite for his physical style of play and his happy-go-lucky attitude. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as intended, but that will not take away from who he was as a player while a member of the flyers organization.
Morin’s Career Leading Up to Philadelphia
After being drafted 11th overall in 2013, Morin spent two more seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Rimouski Océanic. Playing a total of 246 career games (200 Regular and 46 Postseason) for the Océanic, he quickly cemented himself as a major threat on the blue line. He tallied a total of 87 career points (16 Goals and 71 Assists) and 363 career penalty minutes in the regular season and another 27 playoff points (6 Goals and 21 Assists) and 72 playoff penalty minutes.
Prior to joining the Flyers, he spent two full seasons with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the American Hockey League, where he played a total of 177 games and tallied a total of 44 points (8 Goals and 36 Assists) in his career. He also continued the physical play in which he racked up 289 Penalty minutes over the course of six seasons. When the time to join the Flyers lineup finally came, he was more than ready for the opportunity.
“I love the game,” Morin said. “I didn’t really care where I was — AHL, East Coast, anywhere in Europe — I was just ready for anything. I thought about it, but I got a lot of support here with the Flyers — good teammates and good family. I worked hard and now I’m there and trying to stay in the lineup.”
Battling Injury After Injury
Morin finally had the opportunity to join the Flyers lineup during the 2017-18 NHL season, in which he played two games. Later that season, he tore his ACL for the first time while playing in the 2018 Calder Cup playoffs with the Phantoms. It took him almost a full year to recover from the injury, but that did not change what happened next.
“There’s no doubt that we feel for him,” said former head coach Alain Vigneault. “There’s a kid that spent the whole summer here trying to get himself back to playing. He accepts to go to the minors to play some games and I guess on a nothing play, he heard his knee pop. Very unfortunate. Hopefully, he’ll want to put himself through all that year-long rehab and give himself another chance to play.”
He once again tore his ACL during a regular-season game shortly after his return during the 2019 season that required more serious surgery. From the start of 2017 to the end of 2020, he only played a total of 31 games at the professional level; 23 with the Phantoms and eight with the Flyers. Battling injury after injury took a toll on the young defenseman, but that did not stop him from getting back on the ice more than two years later.
Prior to the start of the 2020-21 season, Morin attempted to move up to play forward in an attempt to save his career, which lasted a few games before he decided to shift back to the defensive side of the game. He would go on to play in a total of 20 games that season and score the biggest goal of his life. The first and only goal in the NHL for the young defenseman, but certainly one that he will never forget.
What’s Next for Morin?
With Morin being forced to retire early due to injury, it seems like the Flyers are going to try and find a way to keep him in the organization in some capacity. The organization is going to allow him some time to process what he just went through but would like to sit down this summer to discuss a different career route within the organization.
“Tremendous kid, huge heart, huge determination,” Fletcher said. “Did everything he could to be a player; no one appreciated being a hockey player better than Sam Morin. But there’s just, unfortunately, too much damage to the knee to resurrect his career.”
Keeping him around is the ultimate class-act move from the Flyers organization as his career was cut short way too soon. Regardless of his talents on the ice, he is one of the most down-to-earth human beings the organization has ever drafted.
Bobby Bader Jr. is a freelance journalist born and raised in Philadelphia, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers since the start of the 2020-21 National Hockey League Season. He currently works with the Hershey Cubs Hockey Club (USPHL Premier) as the team’s media coordinator and serves as the Assistant Sports Information Director at Penn State Harrisburg. For interview requests or to provide content info, follow Bobby on Twitter or his social media accounts. They appear under his photo in articles like this one.