As yet another disappointing Philadelphia Flyers season trudges on, the status of captain Claude Giroux continues to be a hot issue. And since it’s literally the only hot thing about the Flyers, it’s no surprise that much column space has been devoted to whether or not the Flyers should keep their long-time star beyond the expiration of his current contract, now just months away.
But really, this isn’t entirely up to the Flyers, but to the player himself. I fail to see any good reason for Giroux to remain here beyond even the upcoming trade deadline. And I don’t say that lightly, having been a big fan of the man for over a decade and delighting in his accomplishments as he’s moved up the Flyers’ all-time leaderboards in virtually every category. And I did name him Philadelphia’s second greatest athlete of the 2010’s, after all.
Now, though, to put it bluntly, Claude Giroux doesn’t have anything left to offer the Flyers. As such, he should be doing everything he can to set himself up for the next (and perhaps final) chapter of his career, one spent outside this city and this organization.
Claude Giroux should move on from the Philadelphia Flyers.
To clarify, in no way do I think that Giroux is done as an effective hockey player. But for where this Flyers team is right now, it would be a waste of everyone’s time for him to stay here and languish for the last few years of his NHL career, one that clearly will not include a Stanley Cup ring for him if he stays. Stranger things have happened, but there is no logical scenario that sees the Flyers seriously compete for a Cup in the next three to four years, the time period that will coincide with the likely end of Giroux’s career.
From a legacy perspective, Giroux easily is on the list of the top ten greatest Flyers, and he may even be top five. At this point, however, there is nothing that he could realistically accomplish with this club that would cement him as #1. This includes if he were to re-sign with the Flyers, hang around for a few more years, and pass Bobby Clarke for the most games played, assists, and points in team history.
It would be a monumental accomplishment to be sure, but absent major individual accolades and any kind of championships, Giroux would still be viewed across all generations of this fanbase as an excellent player who stopped short of being a true all-time great. In my estimation, his place in Flyers lore is already secured, with no realistic chance of him inching higher up the pecking order. Meanwhile, Giroux personally probably doesn’t care as much about all this as the fans do.
Maybe people get a warm and fuzzy feeling about Giroux remaining a Flyer for life, and that would be nice on one level because these things never happen anymore, but him leaving to chase that elusive Cup elsewhere should be in no way a stain on his permanent record. Best for all parties involved for Giroux to waive his no-movement clause and gear up for a playoff run somewhere this season, then reevaluate and pick his next destination over the summer.
Of course, he could always come back to the Flyers even after being dealt, but I find that ridiculous from his point of view. This needs to be a clean break, and it’s not the fault of the player in this case. You never know what mindset Giroux actually has about this situation, though, as he has a family to take care of and will weigh those concerns accordingly.
It’s a rare player who makes me stop and think of what’s best for him personally instead of only how my team can utilize him as an asset. But Claude Giroux has earned it through his performance and dedication to this team over the years. The criticism of him has been loud at times, and it’s been at least somewhat fair on occasion. But I feel sorry for anyone holding him solely or primarily accountable for this team’s failures when he was very often the only thing propping the Flyers up most of the time.
We’re now seeing just how flawed of a team the Flyers are. They’re not going on some miracle run this year and, even if they did, they’re likely too far back in the standings for it to make a difference. Even with over half a season to play, their playoff odds are next to zero.
Trading Giroux is the right call, both for the good of the player and because of the state that the organization has put itself in. Whether or not a bidding war or fair value materializes is anyone’s guess, but hanging onto Giroux would be folly. He is still playing at a high enough level to make a real impact on a contending team like Colorado or Vegas right now.
If we are indeed nearing the end of Giroux’s tenure with the Flyers, it will be a sad day when he departs. Whether in the lead up to the trade deadline or at season’s end, it will genuinely hurt to see an outstanding player of his ilk leave town without a parade. You’d think we’d be used to it by now, but it still hurts.
Claude Giroux has been an exemplary player for this team, but the next few weeks need to be his swan song with the Philadelphia Flyers. A competitor like him needs to be given a real opportunity to win, both this year and in deciding where to go after that, if he so chooses. He’s earned that. We’ve reached the natural end, and an amicable parting of ways is possible here. But no matter what happens from this point on, Claude Giroux will always be a Philadelphia Flyer. We’ll see 28 in the rafters soon enough.