The story of Claude Giroux as a Philadelphia Flyer will forever be a success for one simple reason: it could have been Bobby Sanguinetti.
As the infamous story goes, the Flyers desperately wanted the American defenseman. The New York Rangers, sitting one spot ahead of the Flyers, in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft chose Sanguinetti, leaving the Flyers to frantically chose Giroux with the 22nd pick. The draft announcement by then-General Manager Bob Clarke was even better, as he forgot Giroux’s name.
Giroux is one of the homegrown stars in the NHL and, more specifically, the Flyers. He signed a team-friendly three-year, 11.25 million dollar contract extension after his breakout playoff performance in 2010. Giroux enters the 2013-14 season not just as captain of the Philadelphia Flyers, but also as a restricted free agent.
The worst kept secret in Flyerdom was the naming of Claude Giroux as the 19th captain of the team. This was a move that was preceded by “the shift.” Teammates, media, and fans alike knew Giroux was captain material, and it was only a matter of time before the “C” was sewn onto his number 28 sweater. This is where Giroux’s season gets interesting…
Giroux led the Flyers last year with 93 points in 77 games. He was the catalyst for the team, but this year, the Flyers stumbled out of the starting gate to a 2-6-0 record. The pressure was immediately on the Flyers’ young star and new captain.
How would Giroux react and respond? The answer? Not well. Giroux felt the burden of the “C” and took more reactionary penalties early in the season.
Soon the Flyers would unite Team Ginger, and all was right for Giroux. He would finish the season as a point-per-game player and playing in all three phases of the game. Giroux worked hard to improve in every area, such as face-offs, where Giroux ranked 19th in the league, winning 54.4%.
Yet, based on expectations, Giroux the Captain, Giroux the “best player in the world”, Giroux the cover boy, failed to live up.
This was the year that the young captain should have rallied his young team and make a run to the playoffs. Instead, the Flyers started slowly and dealt with numerous four-game losing streaks throughout the lockout-shortened season. Giroux himself would admit that he did not live up to his own expectations.
The 2012-13 season was a learning year, not just for the young Flyers, but also for Captain Giroux. He gained confidence and learned how to lead his team as the season wore on. Giroux continues to be top-10 talent in the league and continues to take steps towards becoming an elite player in the mold of Pavel Datsyuk, Sidney Crosby, etc. He must continue to mature as a player and captain if he is to meet and surpass expectations.
Giroux is the present and the future of the Flyers franchise. There is no reason to think that the Flyers won’t bestow upon Captain Giroux a humungous big deal to keep him in the Orange and Black for the duration of his career.