NHL Rumors: Is Claude Giroux Ready to Be Philadelphia Flyers Captain?

By Mark Donatiello

Claude Giroux is the obvious face of the Philadelphia Flyers franchise, but is he ready to be the next Flyers captain?  As one of the best players in the NHL, Giroux is the obvious choice to take over where an injured Chris Pronger left off.  Is the 24-year-old ready for the prestige and responsibility of formally being the leader of the Flyers?  Should Giroux be the next Philadelphia Flyers captain?

On the ice, Giroux is without a doubt the best player on the Philadelphia Flyers.  His 93 points as one of the league’s best playmakers prove he is an unselfish scorer with finishing ability.  When the game is on the line, all eyes turn to Claude Giroux for a spark.  Giroux can motivate the players around him or simply create offense by himself.  There’s something to be said about naming your best offensive player captain, especially when he happens to be a natural leader like Giroux.

Giroux already has the respect of the locker room.  His teammates follow him even without the title of captain.  In one of the most dysfunctional locker rooms of the last decade (from Dry Island nonsense to playoff collapses), Giroux has been a voice of reason and stability.  He rarely says anything controversial to the media, he’s charismatic, and he’s beloved.

These characteristics are what made Giroux’s implosion at the end of the Flyers’ playoff series with the New Jersey Devils so surprising.  Giroux, during a live play, argued with a referee while throwing his hands in the air and skating in the opposite direction of the flow of play to protest a non-call.  His display of emotion and frustration climaxed with a late hit to the head of Dainius Zubrus. Giroux was suspended for the final game of the Flyers’ season as a result of this incident, as the team he led past the heavily favored Pittsburgh Penguins continued to collapse without him.

In one emotional outburst, Giroux displayed enough immaturity to have his seemingly inevitable captaincy, at the very least, questioned.  Claude Giroux showed a lack of composure and sportsmanship that proved he may not be ready to be the leader we thought he already was.  The playoffs are a time for composure from leadership – particularly when trailing in a seven-game series.  Claude Giroux was removed from the ice due to a wild display of emotion and frustration.  A captain simply cannot lose control in the most important moments of the season.

Ultimately, this is still Claude Giroux’s team.  Naming him captain would not be detrimental to the team in any way.  However, one more year to develop could serve Giroux well, particularly as the future captain of the Flyers.  Handing the team over to a player that proved to be a volatile liability in the second round of the playoffs does not cultivate the type of composure required of the position.  While this one incident could be dismissed as entirely out of character, it’s hard to completely ignore.  A captain should be experienced enough to walk the line between motivating his team with their emotion and disrupting his team with a lack of composure.

A great leader simply cannot allow themselves to be suspended from the playoffs for an unsportsmanlike hit – particularly one that followed a temper tantrum. Giroux is a great leader, well-spoken, beloved in the locker room, and a motivator – but we sometimes forget how young he still is because of his talent.

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