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Flyers’ MVP award tainted because of decision not to include Claude Giroux on ballot

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Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
The Philadelphia Flyers turned their back on long-time captain Claude Giroux by not including him on their awards ballot. Photo: Zack Hill.

The Philadelphia Flyers sent out awards ballots to the media Friday, with a stipulation.

A bad stipulation.

The stipulation: Only players on the current roster are eligible.

That means Claude Giroux, who would have received my first-place vote as the Bobby Clarke Trophy winner — given to the team’s MVP — cannot be on any of the ballots.

Giroux was traded to Florida last month.

From here, it would have been a close vote between Giroux and right winger Cam Atkinson.

It would have been interesting to see who emerged as the winner, succeeding three-time team MVP Sean Couturier, who played only 29 games this year because of season-ending back surgery.

Now, Atkinson, who will get my vote since Giroux has been declared ineligible, should beat out Travis Sanheim and Carter Hart for the honor.

Part of me understands why the Flyers have the stipulation to not include a player traded during the season. After all, they want to introduce the winner to the fans and make a big deal out of the presentation.

But isn’t it more important to make the right choice?

Atkinson has had a good season, just not quite as good as Giroux, who was the Flyers’ lone All-Star selection.

On merit.

Here are the numbers for both players with the Flyers:

Atkinson: 73 games played, 23 goals, 50 points, 215 shots, 20 hits, 45 blocks, 18:15 time-on-ice per game.

Giroux: 57 GP, 18 goals, 42 points, 154 shots, 48 hits, 15 blocks, 19:14 TOI per game.

During his time with the Flyers this season, Giroux, who played center and left wing, led the team by averaging 0.737 points per game. Atkinson averaged 0.685 points per game.

Giroux was among the NHL leaders in faceoffs, winning a career-high 60.9% of his draws with the Flyers this season.

The Philadelphia Flyers are 4-13 since he was traded to Florida for right winger Owen Tippett and two draft picks.

It would have been a fitting tribute for Giroux to win the Clarke Trophy. The Flyers could have had him deliver a pre-recorded acceptance speech on the scoreboard, and cheers would have echoed around the Wells Fargo Center.

Atkinson deserves cheers, too.

Like Giroux, Atkinson has been a good leader and a stand-up guy during a difficult season. He was having a productive season before getting banged up, contributing to a slump in which he has no goals in his last 12 games. Atkinson has missed the last four games because of an unspecified injury.

The first-year Flyer has been good.

Just not quite as good as Giroux, in my opinion.

But voters won’t be given the option to choose, and that just doesn’t seem right.

Breakaways

The Flyers (23-43-11) play in Montreal (20-46-11) on Thursday, and both teams will be trying to end six-game losing streaks. The Canadiens have won both meetings this season — 3-2 in a shootout, and 4-3 in overtime. Both teams are at the bottom of the league, or close to it, in most offensive and defensive categories.

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