Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux could not hide his disappointment Tuesday afternoon.
As the reporters surrounded Giroux and asked question after question, he could not hold back. He wanted to represent his native Canada in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The Flyers were slated to wrap up their six-game road trip against the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night. Even Peter DeBoer, the Devils’ head coach, was shocked when he heard the announcement.
“I’m a big fan, so for me he’s one of the top 5-10 guys in the world on my list,” DeBoer said. “But I’m not (Canada’s executive director) Steve Yzerman and I’m not Hockey Canada. Those are tough, tough decisions, so I don’t … That’s my 2 cents.” – via NJ.com
Giroux could have pouted and cried foul. It is fair to say no one would blame him. During the last three seasons, only Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Steven Stamkos have scored more points than the Flyers’ captain. Instead, Giroux held his head high and put the disappointment behind him. He went out and scored a goal in a 3-2 Flyers overtime victory.
Giroux has found his game since scoring his first goal against the Edmonton Oilers. Through November and December, he scored 33 points. He has yet to go two consecutive games without a point, and his performance in a 5-4 thriller over the Columbus Blue Jackets solidified one thing: Claude Giroux will not be denied.
During the off season, the Flyers held a townhouse meeting at the Wells Fargo Center for season ticket holders. I was lucky enough to attend and one of the speakers at the event was Ron Hextall, assistant general manager. One fan asked Hextall what he learned as the assistant GM of the Los Angeles Kings. Hextall said he always pushed for character guys when building a hockey team. Character guys, Hextall elaborated, rally a team when they need it most. They are the players who stand up to adversity and fight through it. The phrase that stood out the most was when Hextall brought up the Flyers’ captain and asked, “Who cares more than Claude Giroux?”
Giroux has won the Flyers’ fan base because of the fire he plays with each and every night. Many fans connect with that kind of personality.
Giroux is one of the most driven players in hockey. This snub from Team Canada should inspire him to work even harder to prove Yzerman wrong. Giroux has a few weeks during the Olympic break to relax and motivate himself. When Giroux is mad and plays with a chip on his shoulder, he can do some incredible things. Just ask the Pittsburgh Penguins about the 2012 playoffs.