Now that the emotional bandage that was Claude Giroux’s final days in Philadelphia has been ripped off and the man is no longer dons orange and black, looking back on the expansive career of Giroux as a Philadelphia Flyer has begun. While we could all wax poetic about the fond memories of Giroux, which also happen to be some of the most memorable moments in recent Flyers’ history, how will the longest reigning captain in franchise history be remembered?
Claude Giroux defined a generation for Flyers fans. If you’re younger than 30 years old or so, Giroux was a Flyer for about half of your life. He was the one constant from the Cup run, to the 2012 Flyers-Penguins series, to the early days of the Ron Hextall era, to the current disaster that is the 2020’s.
He’ll be the man remembered fondly in an otherwise grotesque era of Flyers history. The man who didn’t fail when everybody else did.
Statistically speaking, Giroux is second only to Bobby Clarke in most categories. He was only the second Flyer to play 1,000 games with the organization, he finished second in points with 900, second in assists with 609 and eighth in goals with 291.
Through all the accolades, he also led the Flyers through the worst era the franchise has ever known. Something his detractors are quick to point out. “How can he be captain for 10 years and the team disintegrates under his watch?” To an extent it’s a valid point. His leadership has been critiqued by a portion of the fanbase as well as former players. The rumored overly friendly approach and hesitation to be the voice to step up when necessary has been pointed out by guys like Chris Therien and Dale Weise.
Even though we, as fans, are not in the room, Giroux doesn’t come off as the guy who is throwing trash cans during intermission after a bad period. He seems more like a lead by example player, the guy who puts the team on his back by himself when the going gets tough. It’s no surprise the phrase “the Flyers go as the captain goes” was a popular battle cry during Giroux’s days in Philadelphia.
His personal talent and compete level can’t be questioned, and even though the lackluster era of Flyers hockey isn’t all his fault, he can’t be captain for a decade without having some blood on his hands when it comes to the responsibility of the complacent state of the franchise.
Even though we’re only a few weeks removed from Giroux’s 15-year tenure, there is already a different feel with the team. A “the cat’s away so the mice will play” vibe as the team tries to re-adjust without their captain. Sooner or later the next leadership group will rise to the top and Giroux will be nothing more than a distant memory. But like the stars that came before him, he’ll never truly be forgotten. Once this era is in the rear view, then, and only then, will his individual greatness be properly acknowledged.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com