Last night, Claude Giroux played his 611th game as the captain of the Philadelphia Flyers, passing Bobby Clarke for the most games wearing the "C" in team history.
Giroux has never gotten the recognition he deserves in the city of Philadelphia and throughout the NHL. I might go as far to say, he is the most under appreciated Philadelphia athlete of the past decade. But, why? Not only did he surpass the 2x Stanley Cup Champion Clarke for most games played as the Flyers captain, but he is also 4th all-time in points for the Flyers. With 821 points (257 goals 564 assists) Giroux is only trailing Brian Prop, Bill Barber and Clarke for the Flyers all-time points record. At .915 PPG (points per game) Giroux is 10th among active players in this regard. Yet, fans always seem to discount his play and points. They argue that “assists don’t matter” and “Giroux doesn’t show up in the playoffs”. Newsflash, Claude Giroux has 73 points in 85 playoff games, good for 9th overall amongst active players.
The difference between Claude Giroux and the players above him in both regular season stats and post-season stats is that they have other teammates who are great in their respective positions. From 2011 through 2021, Claude Giroux hasn’t had the talent with him to make significant impacts similar to players like Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Towes, Steven Stamkos and Alexander Ovechkin. Each of these players has another first line forward with them. Crosby - Malkin, Towes - Kane, Stamkos - Kucherov, and Ovechkin - Backstrom. Giroux has had Jake Voracek, who can play at an elite level for periods of time, but overall he is a 2nd line winger and has been for the majority of his career.
Another factor these other players have consistently had on their teams when Giroux has not is goaltending. This past season (Carter Hart’s first “full season”), the Flyers made the conference semi-finals for the first time since 2011-2012. During that time period Crosby played with goalies such as Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray, Towes had Corey Crawford, Stamkos had Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy and Ovechkin had Braden Holtby. The Flyers' front office has failed to surround Giroux with the right personnel for years, yet he still has fought day and night for the orange and the black.
Now at age 33, we shouldn't expect Giroux to carry this team through a long playoff run. There's no doubt he'll have to contribute (and should be able to), but in order for this team to make the Stanley Cup Final (and win it) it'll be the young core that needs to step up and play at an elite level.
At the end of the day, it's time to start giving Claude Giroux the respect and praise that he deserves. Because no matter what you currently think about him, his #28 will be hanging in the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center in a decade or two. You'll also have to listen to his speech when he eventually gets inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, too.