Claude Giroux hasn’t watched a minute of the Stanley Cup finals. It’s too painful, the wounds are too fresh after the Flyers were eliminated nearly a month ago.
Despite the premature ouster, Giroux remains the NHL’s leading goal-scorer in the playoffs, with eight — and ranks second in points with 17. Stats and awards are nice, but the great ones don’t care all that much about them.
“It was good but, at the same time, I care more about winning,” Giroux told Metro yesterday, right before receiving the John Wanamaker Athletic Award from the Philadelphia Sports Congress. “Obviously, it was a good season personally, but I can do more next season.”
Even though Giroux isn’t playing or watching hockey right now, he is happy for his buddies Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. They sit one win away from hoisting the Cup.
“When I came in the league, they kind of helped show me the way a little bit and they’re good guys, they’re my buddies,” Giroux said. “I obviously would love to be in that position, but if I have to root for any team, it would be for those guys.”
Ed Snider thinks Giroux can lead the Flyers back to the “promised land.” Why is the chairman so sure? Many point to his rigorous work ethic.
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren related a story from Giroux’s junior days to illustrate that work ethic. The future winger played four games in Russia, then four games in Canada, then took a red-eye from Vancouver to Philadelphia and showed up at Flyers training camp. Not only was he wide awake, he beat half the team in a two-mile run.
“He finished about a lap and a half ahead of everyone,” Holmgren said. “He came over and sat down by me and said, ‘So what are your plans for me?'”
Holmgren actually sent Giroux back to juniors that year, but he could sense the kid’s star potential. Now his head coach, Peter Laviolette, refers to Giroux as the “best player in the world.” He’s also filled the leadership void vacated when Richards and Carter were sent packing.
“He’s looked up to by his teammates,” Holmgren said. “I don’t know if he’s a guy that speaks up a lot, he’s still a little bit of a quiet guy, but his leadership is what he does on the ice for us.”