Claude Giroux is returning to the site of his myriad of accomplishments, and wondering what the fans’ reaction will be.
The former Philadelphia Flyers captain will play at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday afternoon for the first time since he was dealt to Florida last March.
Now he’s with the Ottawa Senators, and he and his teammates will try to avenge last Saturday’s 2-1 loss on the Canadian side of the border. Giroux scored the Sens’ goal in that defeat.
This Saturday, the Flyers will pay tribute to Giroux’s 15 years in Philadelphia, including 10 as its captain. A video tribute will be held before the 1 p.m. matinee. Fans are asked to arrive early.
What will the reaction be? We’re guessing a standing ovation. .
Standing O AND boos
“Philly fans, so they might give me a standing O, and then they might boo me,” Giroux told Ottawa’s Wally and Methot Show over the summer. “So that’s what I expect, and I wouldn’t ask for anything else. I mean, the Flyers’ fans are absolutely nuts. Playing in front of them, their passion, their intensity, it’s just something I can relate to.”
Giroux, a right winger who has seven goals and 12 points in 13 games with scuffling Ottawa (4-8-1), said Philly fans are “tough on their players, but when it goes well, they’re just great fans.”
He was given an emotional Wells Fargo Center sendoff after playing in his 1,000th game, all with the Flyers, and then traded to Florida last March. In July, he signed a three-year, $19.5 million deal with his hometown Senators.
And now he is returning to a city he called “home” for almost half of his life.
“It’s going to be pretty cool to see how the building reacts. I’m sure it’ll be a nice warm welcome home for him,” Flyers right winger Travis Konecny said earlier this week. “Everyone will be excited to have him back in the building. Obviously, the fans were sad to see him go, but they loved him here, so it’ll be a pretty cool thing.”
Giroux is second in Flyers history in games (1,000), points (900) and assists (609), behind Bobby Clarke in all three categories.
Mentor to Konecny
“It was huge,” he said. “There were a number of times he brought me in and showed me the way, He was definitely one of the head guys in that.”
Konecny, 25, credits “a lot of my career so far to him. A lot of the seasons where I had success were playing with G. Obviously, I can’t repay him for that, but I’m always thankful for what he’s done for me.”
Giroux, 34, admitted that after he signed with Ottawa, one of the first things he checked was when the Senators were in Philadelphia.
The time has arrived.
Giroux got a dress rehearsal when he faced the Flyers in Ottawa last week, scoring his 300th career goal in the Sens’ one-goal loss.
In that game, Flyers goalie Carter Hart lost his stick, and Giroux accidentally kicked it back to him.
“He’s in stride,” Hart said the other day, smiling. “I texted him and said, ‘I don’t think you meant to do that.’ ”
Giroux, known for his off-the-chart competitiveness, agreed with Hart’s assessment. He would never help an opponent. Not even a former teammate.