Flyers: Thank You, Claude Giroux

Flyers' Claude Giroux
Flyers’ captain Claude Giroux

Before he laced his skates for the first time as a Philadelphia Flyer, Claude Giroux was as poised as anyone could ask from a Philadelphia athlete. A duck on water; he was calm but kept his legs moving.

“I just want to go on the ice and try to win a game.”

Claude Giroux; 2/19/2008

He was excited to play with Daniel Briere, now the Special Assistant to Chuck Fletcher. Giroux jumped at an incredible opportunity to play with Scott Hartnell, now an analyst with NBC Sports Philadelphia. Giroux said he couldn’t get his “pregame nap” in. All his family and friends were in attendance to see his debut versus the Ottawa Senators.

“I remember after the morning skate, there was a lot of media, and they were all waiting for me. I was extremely nervous for the interview, because there’s a lot of people, and I think that whole 48 hours was pretty crazy. Just the way it all worked out, it was great. When you play for one team, you want to play for as long as you can. It’s been a fun ride, a lot of great memories. I was lucky enough to have great teammates, had a chance to play with great players, great coaches. It feels like it went pretty fast.”

Claude Giroux; 3/15/2022

Fourteen years later, the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is five days away, and Giroux is a prime target for Stanley Cup contending franchises.

Tomorrow will be his 1,000th game in the same sweater. Only he and Bobby Clarke will have accomplished that feat with the Flyers. It’s such an exclusive company, Clarke can’t forget his name this time (kidding, of course.)

Giroux always has been a team player. He transitioned from center to left-wing, kept his mind on focus during one of the worst seasons in team history, and remained ultra-competitive while bringing the best out of recalled prospects. Those reasons contribute to him being the longest reigning captain in Flyers history. Great players play 1,000 games in the NHL, but it takes a certain kind of leader to do it all with one franchise. It’ll gut the city to see a player like Giroux traded away from Philadelphia.

Are we all mentally prepared? Absolutely not.

Leading by example, he’s always been one of the hardest-working players at practice. His consistency at such a high level allowed him to stack 900 points before his 1,000th game. Think about that. Giroux scores a point approximately 90% of the time. He even sacrificed points, becoming more of a two-hundred-foot player under Alain Vigneault after racking up 102 and 85 point seasons under Dave Hakstol.

His teammates, anytime throughout his career, respect him. We’ve witnessed his contributions with recalled players, notably Morgan Frost and Gerry Mayhew recently. He’s a renowned superstar in the NHL, sought after as the missing piece to contend for a Stanley Cup. The beauty about the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is that Giroux calls his potential exit on his own terms.

Could he go to a contender, vying for his first Stanley Cup? Yes, and everyone in Philadelphia will become a fan of the team he plays with for one postseason. He could also decide to remain a lifer with the Flyers; unlikely, but not unreasonable.

“We would be really happy, especially me. I’ve been around him since the start of my career. Have learned so much from him. You just wish him all the best, whether it’s here or somewhere else. He’s a guy who definitely deserves to win once in his career.”

Sean Couturier; 3/15/2022

Either way, everyone who has had the opportunity to watch Philadelphia Flyers hockey over the last fifteen years owes Giroux a hearty “thank you.” He’ll get that tomorrow night, as the Flyers host the Nashville Predators at the Wells Fargo Center. Fans are encouraged to get to the arena early, with the pregame ceremony taking place.

“It maybe took me a little while to understand what it is to play in Philly. When I got to figure it out and understanding the fans, how they are…their passion, how they want to win. You have to respect the way they think, the way they act.”

Claude Giroux; 3/16/2022

His career unraveled before our eyes. It was magical, the ebbs and flows of his career all spent in Philadelphia. Wherever he goes, there will be a Flyers fan somewhere who’ll never forget him as “Captain Claude,” a future NHL Hall of Famer.

(Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)