When he broke into the NHL 15 seasons ago, Claude Giroux idolized the Detroit Red Wings’ Pavel Datsyuk.
Now Giroux, the long-time Philadelphia Flyers captain, is about to play in his 1,000th game Thursday against visiting Nashville. He has already surpassed Datsyuk in games played and assists, and will surely go ahead of him in goals and points before his sterling career is over.
“Probably not,” Giroux said Wednesday when asked if he ever thought it was possible he would surpass Datsyuk in several categories. “I mean, growing up just watching the way he played a 200-foot game; he just did the little things, and obviously he scored some amazing goals. He was a fun player to watch.”
Reaching the 1,000-game mark, all with the Flyers, will be special Giroux said. He saluted the late Ed Snider, the Flyers’ co-founder and long-time chairman.
“Since Day 1 here, being a part of the Philadelphia Flyers, and early on in my carer having a chance to meet Mr. Snider and get to know him and get to see his passion for the game (was amazing),” Giroux said. “Everybody followed him. You just want to be a part of the family. That’s one thing that Mr. Snider was probably the best at — making it feel like we’re one big family.”
Giroux, 34, who also saluted the fans for their passion, did not want to talk about trade rumors, saying he wanted to focus on his 1,000th game with Philly. “It’s something I’m proud of,” he said. (He said after Thursday, he will “change the mindset a little bit and see how things are going to go.”)
His wife, two young boys, parents and many relatives and friends are in town, and most were at Wednesday’s practice in Voorhees.
Interim coach Mike Yeo lauded Giroux for his humility. He didn’t think Giroux was comfortable with “all the attention and everything that’s going on, but that’s also what makes all of us want to make it as special as possible. Not just for the player he is, but for the person he is.”
Giroux conceded he felt a little “awkward” about all the praise coming his way, but that he was honored by it.
His teammates, he added, have made him feel special.
“I love them,” he said. “It’s my second family; being able to spend every day with them. My teammates now and my former teammates who I had a chance to get close to. I got to know a lot of guys from different countries, different places. It’s been a great dream to meet as many great guys that I played with.”
At his teammates’ request, he has reluctantly led drills the last few days.
“My teammates this week made me feel pretty special,” he said. “Makes me feel a little awkward, but a lot of people (would) like to feel love like this.”
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) March 16, 2022
Yeo talked about when he was named a Philadelphia Flyers assistant.
“The hiring wasn’t even announced yet, and I received a phone call from G,” Yeo said. “It was incredibly thoughtful of him to do that, to reach out and make me feel a part of things. It just got us going right off the hop on the right foot.”
He also recalled a few years ago when Giroux knocked on his door after a loss and told him he wanted to get more penalty-kill time.
“It’s not that he didn’t have the confidence in other people to kill penalties; it just shows you the impact he wants to have on the game — not just the offensive side,” Yeo said. “When the game is on the line and you have a chance to close out a game and get a kill and maybe win a big faceoff, he wants to do those things. That speaks volumes of him and his competitiveness.”
Yeo said Giroux, who would like to play until he’s 40, deserves to be a Hockey Hall of Famer when his career ends. The fact Giroux has not won a Stanley Cup, Yeo said, should not be held against him. “This is very much a team game,” the coach said. “No player can have individual success without players around him. … Hopefully that moment will come for him, where he is a Stanley Cup winner.”
Sean Couturier said he and his teammates would understand if Giroux waived his no-movement clause to go to a contender, and they would be “happy for him.”
Ceremonies at 7
Giroux will be honored at 7 p.m. ceremonies prior to Thursday’s 7:16 p.m. game against Nashville at the Wells Fargo Center. Giroux deserves a sellout crowd of appreciative fans.
Fans are urged to arrive early.
Philadelphia Flyers icon Bobby Clarke, who works as an adviser for the team, will be a part of the ceremonies.
“It’s huge. He’s obviously ‘Mr. Flyer,’ ” Giroux said. “Since Day 1 for me, he’s the one who drafted me, the one who said my name (with some help). Since then, any position he’s been with the Flyers, he’s always been a great friend. Always been there to support and help me. He’s been through it, so for him, it’s been going through experiences he had. He definitely helped me a lot in my career.”
I have a feeling two of these former #Flyers will have messages for @28CGiroux tomorrow. Boxing legend Larry Holmes is in the middle. This was at the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association’s banquet a few years ago. pic.twitter.com/AgiEXesRYM
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) March 16, 2022