Go around and ask anybody, even if they don’t follow hockey, it’s almost guaranteed that they know the name, Sidney Crosby.
Despite drawing a ton of comparisons to this apparent “next Great One,” Claude Giroux falls far from this case. In fact, if bets were going to be made, it’s almost guaranteed most hockey fans outside of the Metropolitan division don’t even know who he is.
Throughout his career, Claude Giroux has only been truly given credit by Flyers fans. Even within the fan base though, he’s vastly underrated, even by those who support him wholeheartedly. His value to the team year in and year out is so under the radar, despite his consistent play and availability.
Before the draft:
Claude Giroux had always been an underdog, and underrated.
After going undrafted in the 2004 OHL draft, Claude Giroux was not thought to have much of a future ahead of him. In fact, he was passed over twice in the Ontario Hockey League draft, going undrafted again in 2005. The only way he could get into the Junior league was via walking on.
With a little help from a coach in Canada, Richard Julien (brother of NHL coach, Claude Julien), Giroux scored a chance to walk onto the Gatineau Olympiques. Despite not impressing coach Benoit Groulx during one of Giroux’s Central Junior Hockey League game, Groulx gave him an invite to rookie camp anyways.
Giroux made the most of his opportunity, training harder than ever the summer between the scouted game and rookie camp. He then gained a roster spot, where he soon:
“led QMJHL rookies with 103 points, was tied for first with 39 goals in 69 games and made the Canadian Hockey League all-rookie team.”
As for Giroux, he has struggled to find the back of the net for the majority of his career. This does not define him as a player, however, as he was drafted for his playmaking ability.
Giroux’s greatest talent is his playmaking ability. Boasting excellent hands and great vision, the diminutive winger is able to use his quick skating ability to turn something out of nothing. Giroux, despite his size disadvantage, does not mind getting his nose dirty, and will stand in to take a hit in order to make a play. He does get bodied often, but the shifty winger is agile enough to avoid checks on a regular basis.From Hockey’s Future
Giroux fell to the Flyers at 22nd overall in the 2006 NHL draft and is arguably the biggest steal in modern draft history for Philadelphia.
Playmaker may be the best word to describe Giroux as a player. In fact, it’s such a perfect description, might as well add elite in front of it. Since joining the league, playing meaningful minutes, “G” ranks 7th in assists and 7th in points.
Making the League
Following Gatineau’s first-round elimination from the QMJHL playoffs, Giroux signed an ATO with the Phantoms. Giroux then played a total of 38 AHL games before cracking the big leagues full time.
Giroux’s hands, speed, and hockey IQ demonstrated what the Flyers needed at the time.
He showcased what was to come early in his career. In his first full season with the Flyers, the future captain made his mark.
The best ability is availability, and Giroux played all 82 games during the 2009 campaign. Since 2009, Giroux has also played in the fifth most games among all NHL players with 805. However, it was in the 82nd game of that season that Giroux solidified his future with Philadelphia.
The Flyers would then make the playoffs because of this goal, springboarding them to a Stanley Cup finals run. The once lackluster Juniors’ player soon became a Philadelphia hero.
The New Captain
Following an NHL lockout that lasted from September 15, 2012, until January 6, 2013, Claude Giroux was named 19th captain in franchise history.
“Claude is the undisputed leader of this team,” Holmgren said in making the announcement. “He always exhibits a tremendous work ethic in games and practices. He is a great professional both on and off the ice.”
Gaining this high praise from then-general manager Paul Holmgren, Giroux began to fully kickstart his career. Since being named captain, Giroux has only missed a mere five games (564 played, 6th in time span). During this incredible stretch of games played, he has picked up 539 points (4th during time span). His ability to set up teammates is showcased, as 372 of those points are assists (3rd during time span).
His leadership on the ice is clearly evident as well. As the Flyers continued to rebuild during the Ron Hextall era, Giroux took the helm. He continually made players around him better, with prime examples being Travis Konecny and now, Morgan Frost.
Since the Eagles’ Superbowl win, this is obviously a blown idea. However, Claude Giroux truly represents what it means to be an underdog. Learning how to work hard after years of “not being good enough” to scouts around the OHL, “The Captain” proved himself.
He gained a chip on his shoulder after gaining a ton of comparisons to rival Sidney Crosby and even Bobby Clarke but only used it to motivate him. Working year in and year out to prove himself, Giroux just goes out and plays the sport his loves. Being hidden behind the likings of natural goal scorers such as Connor McDavid, Patrick Kane, and Sidney Crosby, the league may never give him the recognition he deserves. However, Philadelphia needs to. His leadership, playmaking ability, and natural hockey IQ could leapfrog him into the NHL Hall of Fame before fans know it.
But if all else fails, who doesn’t love his endless shootout moves and filthy mitts?
Mandatory Credit – © James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports