The Philadelphia Flyers were a big part of my 1990s sports fandom. They were the first good team I rooted for. Throughout the decade, they were routinely competing for a Stanley Cup. They even made it to the finals against the Detroit Red Wings only to get beaten down pretty badly and humble me.
Like a lot of Philadelphia sports fans who didn’t rank the Flyers as number one in their hearts, my interest in them varied from year-to-year. The fabled 2009-10 season pulled me. The club had an exciting run all the way to the Stanley Cup. One of the key players was future captain Claude Giroux.
It was his first full season with the club. Giroux was a more minor member of the Flyers roster. However, in the postseason, he lit things up with 10 goals and 11 assists. He was a rising young star. Only a few years later, he was named team captain and a new era at the Wells Fargo Center officially began. It all came to an end this weekend when he was traded to the Florida Panthers.
Claude Giroux was not the problem with the Philadelphia Flyers during his time as team captain.
Giroux became the captain of the Flyers on January 15, 2013. He replaced veteran defenseman Chris Pronger who had assumed the role after Mike Richards.
From January 15, 2013, until March 19, 2022, the Flyers entered a different phase of their existence. They had lost in the Stanley Cup finals one season and then went to back-to-back conference semi-finals in the two seasons after. Things were about to spiral downward. Over the next decade, the franchise would win only a single playoff round when they did so in the shortened 2019-20 season.
Admittedly, I’ve been checked out for a good portion of the time Giroux was the team captain. It had nothing to do with him. He wasn’t the problem. I moved away from the area. Other interests began to take priority than a hockey team that seemed to be in constant rebuild yet never willing to completely tear it all down.
The Flyers never completely punted. They would generally finish with a low playoff seed, never quite having a good enough team to win a Stanley Cup but also too good to ever decide it was time to move on from Giroux much sooner and begin a rebuild.
There was a time early on in Giroux’s time with the Flyers where you couldn’t spend a winter day in Philadelphia without seeing someone wearing his jersey. He was far more popular than many other captains in franchise history ever were. Richards had nothing on him.
The legacy Giroux leaves with the Flyers is a positive one yet also a tenure of missed chances. He leaves with exactly 1,000 games played and 900 points in them. The points rank him only behind Bobby Clarke.
Time will tell how fans remember Giroux most. It should be as one of the best in franchise history even if many, like me, grew tired of the organization’s shortcomings throughout. In a couple of years, we’ll have our answer when number 28 hangs from the Wells Fargo Center rafters.