Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux has always been self-aware and his own biggest critic. He fought through another dip in production last season after offseason hip surgery and a premature return to game action at the World Cup kept him from being fully healthy for a long time.
It wasn’t good enough overall for Giroux. The fans know it. Ron Hextall knows it. And, most importantly, he knows it.
“For sure it bothers me,” Giroux told reporters on Thursday afternoon, via Dave Isaac. “That’s not the player I want to be. I put that behind me. Everybody in this room, we’re all looking forward.”
The captain always gets a heavier brunt of the criticism and Giroux has been no stranger to it in his nine years in the NHL.
“I knew all those questions were going to come in camp,” Giroux said. “For me, I’m putting it in the past. I’m looking forward. I’m really working hard to be good and for me I think I put myself in a good spot to have a good season. We can keep talking about the last few years, but it’s not going to make me a better player.”
Giroux should benefit from an offseason that, for the first time in four years, did not include any sort of surgery. He’ll also have a stronger supporting cast to go along with his health, and we’re betting on a strong bounce-back from G this season.
After a summer spent working out and getting stronger instead of rehabbing from surgery, he should be more prepared for the grind of the season.
“This year I was really focusing on getting faster, stronger and quicker,” Giroux said. “Hopefully it’s going to pay off.”
Jake Voracek already sees a different Giroux from last year, one that’s actually healthy and whose body will allow him to play at a level that he was accustomed to.
“When I saw him doing the testing, he’s skating very well,” Voracek said. “It’s very important for him that he’s going to be quick and fast, which he is in my opinion after I saw that. I don’t think anybody in this room worries about G. I think it’s more the bubble of outside. It isn’t in the organization or the locker room.”
Teammates have always stood up for Giroux in the locker room and in the media, a further testament to the respect he gets from his peers as captain and face of the franchise. However, the on-ice performance needs to be there in order for the Flyers to find true success in their transitional years here.
His point totals have dropped each of the last three seasons from 86 points in ’13-14 to 73 points the year after.. to 67 points the year after that and down to 58 points last season in a full 82 games. He knows that a lot of eyes are on him as captain and nobody wants him to return to form more than himself.
“I don’t think there was anything negative about that,” Giroux said in response to Jeremy Roenick’s comments over the summer that Giroux got in his own head. “It was just about me proving who I am. He’s been in that position before and he knows how it feels. He said what I think.”
“I’m actually close with Jeremy. Jeremy’s a guy that when he played, he had a chip on his shoulder. He wanted to prove every game that he was better than everybody else. It’s about having that mentality.”
And proving it is exactly what Giroux will try to do this season. He still sees himself as an elite center and set the bar rather high for himself, as any player should, with an 80-point season as his goal.
Giroux says he still thinks of himself as an elite center. Eyes an 80-point season. Lots of #Flyers' vets in camp early.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) September 7, 2017
While seemingly lofty, 80 points is not an unreachable goal for the 29-year-old center.
With a healthy hip, some important reinforcements up front and on the back end, a new mind in charge of the power play unit and a large chip on his shoulder, the chips are currently stacked in Giroux’s favor as he goes all-in to bounce-back and reclaim his status as an elite player in the National Hockey League.
Be sure to check out Dave Isaac’s piece on Giroux.
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