For those of you who have not heard, Claude Giroux was left off of the Team Canada Olympic roster. He could still be called upon in the event of an injury to one of the players on the team.
I always try to keep an unbiased perspective when I write, but the truth is, I think this is one of the dumbest hockey decisions I have ever seen. This could be just because I am a Flyers fan, but I doubt it. There are endless reasons to put Giroux on the Olympic squad. He is the highest scoring Canadian player over the last three years (2nd in the NHL behind Russian Evgeni Malkin). He is elite offensively, defensively, on the penalty kill, and on the power play. He can play center or wing and he plays with as much heart as I have ever seen. He averages over a point per game in the playoffs and plays better when the stakes are higher. To say that he is a bigger snub than Bobby Ryan is an understatement.
Now that my rant is over, there are three perspectives that I have regarding this news. First, as an American. Second, as a Flyers fan. Third, as a fan of Claude Giroux.
Yes!!! We are going to win gold! Ok, that may be excessive. The truth is, as an American who will be rooting for Team USA, this is great news. I have watched Claude Giroux put the team on his back for the last three years and I know what he is capable of. I have also seen a lot of Rick Nash, Jeff Carter, and Chris Kunitz. They are all great players, but they do not scare me as much as Claude Giroux does. They can score goals, sure, but they do not have the all around drive and defensive awareness to put the same fear into their opponents that Giroux can. Thank you Team Canada, American hockey fans could not be more appreciative.
Well, as bad as I feel for Claude, this could be a good thing. He is already a driven guy, and now, he will be even more motivated to win the Cup. A snub like this could be just what Giroux needs to be pushed over the edge. I remember when Peter Laviolette called him the best player in the world. It was during the 2012 playoffs when the Flyers were playing the Penguins and Giroux was playing on an other-worldly level. Now, I think that we will see the same Giroux that we saw in the 2012 playoffs. He will be hungrier, more motivated, and well rested. It is too bad for the guy, but this could help the Flyers long term.
I feel really bad for Claude. He has done everything Team Canada could ask of him. His early season slump had just as much to do with his hand injury and the Flyers slow start than anything to do with his skill. He is a leader, a hard-worker, and versatile player. As someone who enjoys watching him play and wishes the best for him, this news is disappointing. I do not wish harm or injury on anyone, but I hope he gets the chance to represent his country in Sochi somehow. He sure has earned it.