As the March 21 trade deadline inches closer, Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux has mixed emotions.
He is a Philadelphia Flyer, true and true. He loves the organization, loves the city, loves the fans’ passion.
In 14-plus seasons in Philly, he has become a Flyers icon, and he is second in franchise history in points (895), behind only Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke (1,210). He is also No. 2 in assists (606) and games played (988) for the Flyers, and No. 1 in power-play points (338).
On the other hand, Giroux, 34, would love to win a Stanley Cup before his superb career ends, which is why he is expected to waive his no-movement clause and get traded to a contender like Colorado, St. Louis, Minnesota, Carolina, or some place else.
After the Flyers held a practice in which half the team was given the day off Wednesday, Giroux told the media he hasn’t talked yet to general manager Chuck Fletcher about his decision to waive his mo-movement clause.
“I’m sure we will at some point,” he said in a somber tone that, unless I’m reading the tea leaves incorrectly, suggested his days with the Flyers are numbered this season, though he could return as a free agent in 2022-23. “But right now, I’m committed to this team and to start winning some hockey games and keep working as a team here.”
Giroux said “the organization here has been great for me for the last 14 years. They treated me the right away. I had a chance to play with a lot of great players and had great coaches. It’s an honor to have been a Flyer this long.”
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) February 16, 2022
Split seems near
Again, the words were tinged with melancholy (and sometimes in the past tense), as if he was preparing himself for a split with the only NHL franchise he has known since he was drafted in the first round in 2006.
Someone asked how much Giroux’s family situation — he and his wife have two young children — will play in his decision to waive his no-movement clause.
“There’s a lot that comes into play, obviously, and that’s a big one, for sure,” he said.
Giroux said he and Fletcher have “a lot of things to talk about. What’s best for the Flyers’ organization, what’s best for me, and we’ll just go from there.”
No one hates losing more than Giroux, and the Flyers have done a lot of that during this injury-ravaged season that has included winless streaks of 10 and 13 games. You can see Giroux’s frustration by his body language on the ice, by the way he slams his stick during games.
To his credit, he hasn’t let the Flyers’ ridiculously bad injury situation affect his play, and his leadership only makes him more enamored by prospective trade partners.
“I know it’s a little cheesy, but when you put the Flyers’ jersey on, you have to wear it with pride,” Giroux said. “You just have to go out there and do your job and (try to) get a win every night.”
Giroux, the MVP of the recent All-Star tournament, is the Flyers’ co-leader in points (37) and second in goals (16) this season.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) February 17, 2022
“He’s one of the best players in the league,” goalie Carter Hart said about Giroux after the Flyers blew a late two-goal lead and lost in overtime, 5-4, to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. “It’s a privilege to play alongside him. I just wish we could give him more as a group. It’s a tough situation for him, and he’s playing great.”
Earlier this week, interim coach Mike Yeo said the trade talk surrounding Giroux was “difficult for him in so many different ways,” and saluted him for his work ethic and play. “He cares very much for this organization, and obviously the fact that we’re struggling right now, he takes that very personally. And then you add on the stress, the uncertainty of what’s to come … but in true G fashion, he continues to play hard for the group.”
The Flyers had 11 players sidelined by injuries Tuesday, though one of them (Gerry Mayhew) will return for Thursday’s game against Washington.
“I’ve never seen that many injuries,” Giroux said. “Chuck (Fletcher) made some great moves in the summer. and we had a good start to the season and everything was going great, and then injuries started. It’s been a tough couple months.”
Giroux said “guys are working their butts off, trying to get wins,” and that the blown third-period lead in Pittsburgh was baffling.
“We were playing a good game; we were controlling the game and one bad thing happens and then the second one,” he said. “The only word is that it’s just very frustrating.”
He said the plane ride home “wasn’t too fun. It hasn’t been too fun for a good amount of time here. We want to win hockey games, we want to play the right way. It’s just not happening right now.”
Thirty-three days until the trade deadline, G. Hopefully by that time, the wins and the fun will return.
Martin Jones will make his first start since Jan. 25 when he faces the Caps on Thursday. Hart had started the last five games. … Starting Thursday, fans will no longer be required to show proof of a COVID vaccine or a negative test to enter the Wells Fargo Center, based on the city’s policy. Masks are still required.