Claude Giroux hasn’t watched a minute of the Stanley Cup finals. It’s too painful, the wounds are too fresh after the Flyers were eliminated nearly a month ago.
Despite the premature ouster, Giroux remains the NHL’s leading goal-scorer in the playoffs — he’s tied with teammate Danny Briere, with eight — and ranks second in points with 17. Stats and awards are nice, but the great ones don’t care all that much about them.
“It was good but, at the same time, I care more about winning,” Giroux told Metro Tuesday, right before receiving the John Wanamaker Athletic Award from the Philadelphia Sports Congress at the ritzy Crystal Tea Room in Center City. “Obviously, it was a good season personally, but I can do more next season.”
Even though Giroux isn’t playing or watching hockey right now, he is happy for his buddies Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. They sit one win away from hoisting the Cup.
“When I came in the league, they kind of helped show me the way a little bit and they’re good guys, their my buddies,” Giroux said. “I obviously would love to be in that position, but if I have to root for any team, it would be for those guys.”
Ed Snider thinks Giroux can lead the Flyers back to the “promised land.” Why is the chairman so sure? Well, many point to his rigorous work ethic.
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren related a story from Giroux’s junior days to illustrate that work ethic. The future winger played four games in Russia, then four games in Canada, then took a red-eye from Vancouver to Philadelphia and showed up at Flyers training camp. Not only was he wide awake, he actually beat half the team in a two-mile run.
“He finished about a lap and a half ahead of everyone,” Holmgren said. “He came over and sat down by me and said, ‘So what are your plans for me?’”
Holmgren actually sent Giroux back to juniors that year, but he could sense the kid’s star potential. Now his head coach, Peter Laviolette, refers to Giroux as the “best player in the world.” He’s also filled the leadership void vacated when Richards and Carter were sent packing.
“He’s looked up to by his teammates,” Holmgren said. “I don’t know if he’s a guy that speaks up a lot, he’s still a little bit of a quiet guy, but his leadership is what he does on the ice for us.”
Pronger making little progress
Chris Pronger is the Flyers captain until he is officially ruled out for next season. That was GM Paul Holmgren's mandate at a season-ending press conference. On Tuesday, Holmgren tried to update Pronger's status. Unfortunately, the stud defenseman hasn't made much progress at all.
"He continues to have some good days and some bad days, I don’t know if that’s any update," Holmgren said. "I think it’s too soon [to rule him out for next season]. We’re still holding out hope that he starts to get better and turns the corner in that regard. I would say right now that there haven’t been any signs to indicate that’s in the near future ... but we’ll see."
Pronger, of course, is still suffering from post-concussion symptom. The Flyers shut him down for the season in mid-December. In late October, Pronger took a stick to the face, which left him lying on the ice writhing in pain, with a bloodied eye.