Welcome to another edition of Point/Counterpoint, where a pair of Flyers Faithful scribes square off, debating an issue with their own unique style and flair. This week, Kim P and Craig F discuss the possibility of the Flyers naming Claude Giroux their new captain.
Point: Kim P.
If the chatter surrounding the Flyers isn’t about their goaltending issues, it’s something about the captaincy. As of right now, Chris Pronger is still the official team captain. But it doesn’t look like he’ll be returning, still recovering from the after-effects of a gruesome injury suffered last October, and the Flyers world is abuzz over who will become the new captain, if the team decides to name one.
Several likely candidates are in the mix, like Kimmo Timonen, Danny Briere, and even longshots like Scott Hartnell and Max Talbot have been favored. But the name at the forefront of the list is Claude Giroux.
There is absolutely no doubt that Giroux possesses many leadership qualities. There might be no better example of that than his actions in Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He told Peter Laviolette that he wanted the first shift — and had a dominating one. In just 32 seconds, he flattened Sidney Crosby and scored the game’s first goal on Marc-Andre Fleury. The Flyers, as we know, went on to win that game (and G tacked on two assists on top of his goal) and advance to the conference semifinals.
However, just because he possesses those qualities and is known as a team leader does not necessarily mean he is ready to take on the captaincy. As we saw with Mike Richards, who accepted the “C” before he really felt comfortable enough to, sometimes the pressure can be too much. Would the same things that happened to Richards happen to Giroux? Maybe not, but it’s possible that something might derail his, or anybody else’s effort, before it comes to fruition.
At the age of 24, Giroux has already established himself as an NHL superstar. He’d make an excellent captain…one day. Give him one more season as a player, as an assistant captain, and then sew that letter onto his sweater. For now, stick with a veteran guy like Timonen or Briere, both known for their own leadership qualities, and keep Giroux in mind for the not-so-distant future.
Besides, as we learned last season, people can be leaders or de facto captains without having the letter on their upper left chest. Giroux will absolutely still be one of the leaders of the squad this season even if he is not named captain.
Counterpoint: Craig F.
Giroux should be captain of the Flyers this coming season for many of the reasons Kim listed above. His actions in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Penguins speak volumes as to what type of captain he could be, and there isn’t a better time to give him the “C” than now.
Along with the other four options Kim mentioned above, Giroux is the best choice for Philly. Briere is a veteran forward, but he’s not a good enough all-around player to lead a team (most likely won’t lead a team in blocked shots or defensive effort in a game). Talbot and Hartnell are great players that are loved by teammates and fans, but can you honestly see either of them wearing the C next season? Nothing against them, but the argument really should come down to Timonen or Giroux.
Timonen is a legitimate option to be the captain of the Flyers next season. However, if there is one statement Paul Holmgren has made about this club it’s that he wants to let the younger players grow and mature into the elite players they’re anticipated to become. With the movement of youth sweeping over the Flyers’ organization, wouldn’t it make sense to give Giroux the captaincy rather than an older defenseman who might endure his final season in the NHL?
Many people are worried about Giroux receiving the honor too early in his career, which shouldn’t be a concern when you look at G’s track record when it comes to pressure. Holmgren traded away both Richards and Jeff Carter last offseason and handed the team to Giroux and JvR. With JvR out for the majority of the regular season, Giroux stepped up and finished fourth in the MVP voting with a 93-point season, as well as finished first in the 2012 postseason with eight goals needing only 10 games to do so. This isn’t to mention the fact he had five game-winning goals in the regular season and potted two of the decisive goals in the Flyers’ four shootout wins this past season.
It’s obvious Giroux responds well to pressure. If Philly decided to tell Giroux he was the decisive leader of a young group of players that is expected to bring the Stanley Cup back to the city, how do you think he would respond?