Some of us remember it as if it were yesterday. How could we not? I mean, it isn’t often a player’s name gets forgotten by the organization he’s getting drafted by. For one, Claude Giroux, that was the case. To quote Philadelphia Flyers Senior Vice President, Bobby Clarke, “Uh, whoop. I forget.”
Despite the stage goof, Giroux’s name was eventually called. It may not have been the Hollywood entry to the NHL Giroux dreamed about, but his dreams had finally become a reality. Perhaps the folly by Clarke was a little bit of a foreshadowing. If a player was expecting to be treated with glitz and glamor, Philadelphia was the last place they would want to end up. Nevertheless, Giroux was up for the Challenge.
Giroux may have been drafted No. 22 overall in the 2006 draft, but the hype was at a minimal for him. He had to watch the likes of Phil Kessel, Jonathan Toews and Erik Johnson get selected ahead of him. In fact, eight other centers ended up being picked before he was. But like every excited 18-year-old, he was drafted, and to him, that’s all that mattered.
Giroux showed superstar potential long before he made his NHL debut. As a part of the Gatineau Olympiques in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, he scored 87 goals, tallied 128 assists and recorded 215 points in 132 games. In the 2007-08 season, Giroux would finally get his shot with the Flyers. Unfortunately his stint was cut very short. Giroux had only played in two games and failed to record a point.
Hope was anything but lost for Giroux, though. In the 2008-09 season, the Flyers eventually assigned Giroux to the Philadelphia Phantoms, better known as the Adirondack Phantoms now, and on Dec. 26, 2008, Giroux would make the permanent switch from purple and orange to black and orange.
That season, Giroux went on to record 27 points in 42 games (9G,18A). It wasn’t until the following season, though, that in one particular playoff moment it was quite clear Giroux would someday be the captain of the Flyers.
It was Wednesday, June 2, 2010 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Philadelphia was facing an absolute buzzsaw in the Chicago Blackhawks. Just about six minutes into overtime, Giroux made a crafty veteran move to the front of the net, found the deflection and boom. The game was over and the pandemonium began.
From then on, the rest was history. Giroux would go on to score 169 points the next two seasons, including finishing third in the league in points during the 2011-12 campaign.
On Jan, 15, 2013, that “someday” finally came. Giroux was officially named the 19th Captain in the team’s history. Had it not been for a shortened season that year, Giroux would have been on pace to gather 82 points. His season debut as captain was involuntarily and unfairly cut short. This season, however, he’s proving to everyone why he rightfully deserves to wear that “C” over his left shoulder.
In 79 games this season, Giroux has 81 points, including 27 goals. Seven of those goals have been game-winners, including a laser in overtime to defeat the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks. He currently sits in fifth in the league for points, second in the east. He was named one of the league’s three best players for the month of March and most recently stepped up big again in a playoff clinching win over the Florida Panthers, scoring two goals.
Giroux’s off-ice contributions speak just as loudly, if not louder, than his on-ice contributions. Since joining the Flyers, he has helped with organizations like Kidsport, Notre-Dame Hospital Foundation and he’s even in the midst of helping put together a state-of-the-art physiotherapy and rehabilitation center in the small community of Hearst, Ontario, Canada.
I could go on and on about his success both on and off the ice, but the truth is I won’t have enough character space to do it. The memories he’s made for countless Flyers fans, and even hockey fans around the world, will never fade — nor will the magic he’s created for an immense amount of children worldwide.
The next chapter in the story of Giroux will begin Apr. 16 when the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin. Win or lose, you can bet there will be some unforgettable moments.