“Captain Claude” Giroux, who was with the Flyers for fifteen seasons and was also their longest-tenured captain in franchise history, was traded to the Florida Panthers. For the first time in nearly a decade, the Philadelphia Flyers need to name a new captain.
Naming a captain might not happen immediately — the Flyers are likely to wait until the 2022-23 season to do so. But that still leaves us with who will be the next in line to carry on the tradition that has been set by such great past captains as Bob Clarke, Dave Poulin, Eric Lindros, Keith Primeau, and now Claude Giroux? At some point, the Flyers will need to decide who will become the 20th player in franchise history to wear the “C”.
The current roster has many solid candidates whose leadership as captain could help the Flyers figure themselves out in this new era, it’s just a matter of choosing the right one.
Here are the three top candidates that would be a good fit for the honor of the Flyers’ new captain.
Couturier is in his 11th season with the Flyers, where he has served as an assistant captain for the last couple of years. This makes him the very obvious choice for the next team captain.
He is a teammate who leads by example and is a leader every time he steps onto the ice, which is what the Flyers need in a captain. Giroux was that type of captain every single season, so if anyone were to continue with that same mentality, it would be Coots. With Giroux gone, he’s now the longest-tenured Flyer on the roster, not to mention he already wears the “A” on his chest. One could also say that with Giroux gone, he’s arguably the team’s best player.
Couturier will be out the remainder of the 2021-22 season after undergoing back surgery, having only played 29 games this season. Despite being out, he remains an important piece to the Flyers’ team.
When talking about leadership, Scott Laughton is also an obvious choice. He has stepped up in a big way leadership-wise this season, and his teammates seem to gravitate toward him.
Laughton is in his ninth season with the Philadelphia Flyers since being drafted 20th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft. He has proved himself as a leader over the last couple of seasons, becoming someone his team can rely on both in the locker room and on the ice during times of need.
Laughton isn’t always a strong presence on the ice, but no matter the situation, he’s someone you can count on to be reliable and work hard. He has stepped up, regardless of how bad the season has been, to defend his teammates and be there when the team needs him. If picked as captain, Laughton would seize the opportunity and take charge as the team’s new leader.
Laughton won the Flyers’ Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy for the 2019-20 season. In his 428 games as a Flyer, he has logged 154 points (64G, 90A.)
Although Kevin Hayes’ time as a Flyer has been shorter than the other two candidates, you wouldn’t even know it as he is a strong fan favorite on and off the ice.
While the fans might love Hayes, it isn’t just them who have grown fond of him. He is highly respected across the league and has shown to be one of the primary leaders in the locker room. Hayes is also a strong presence on the ice who has been building back his confidence on the ice after his injuries. He’s looking faster and stronger with every game, notching goals and assists. With Hayes in the running for potentially getting the captain role, it’s a good sign for the Flyers that he has been heating up.
Acquired from the Winnipeg Jets ahead of the 2019-20 season, Hayes has logged 93 points (42G, 51A) in 156 games as a member of the Flyers.
Even with two injury-plagued seasons, Hayes is still a strong candidate for captain. With his strong leadership in the locker room and his ability to bounce back from injuries, he is a strong candidate.
Claude Giroux embodied everything a captain should be and was a player for all the younger members to look up to. When it comes time for the organization to select a new captain, the next is going to have some big skates to fill. He served the Flyers well during his time as captain, and even though a Flyers organization without him is an intimidating one, whoever replaces him as captain will start a whole new era for Philadelphia.
Giroux is a free agent at the end of his season with Florida, so maybe a reunion is in the cards? If the Flyers make some good moves, maybe they can re-sign Giroux and bring him back home to Philly. Although his chapter with the Flyers is closed for now, I will never give up hope that his story as a Flyer isn’t yet finished.
(Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)