The Philadelphia Flyers have had 13 Hockey Hall of Famers play for them at some point in their careers. This list includes legends, Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent and Bill Barber. However, there might be one more Flyer legend added to the list: Claude Giroux.
There is a lot of disagreement regarding Giroux’s Hall of Fame prospects. I asked hockey fans on Twitter if they thought he would be inducted and their responses were split: 50% of respondents said yes while the other 50% said no.
The Flyers drafted Giroux with their first-round pick in 2006. Since then, he has played 889 games in 13 seasons in Philadelphia. Each season, he has steadily boosted his NHL resume and he now has 257 career goals and 558 assists. He has also been selected to the All-Star Game six times and has captained the Flyers since 2013.
While Giroux has already assembled one of the best careers in Flyer history, his resume isn’t complete enough for the Hall of Fame. Nonetheless, at just 32 years of age, he has plenty of seasons left to continue racking up points and accolades. By the time he is ready to hang up his skates, he just might have a Hall of Fame (HHoF) career.
What is a Hall of Fame Career?
Consider the following resumes of two former NHL forwards:
Player A: This player eclipsed 500 goals and 800 assists and finished his career with 1,327 points. He was a nine-time 30-goal scorer and tallied over 100 points twice. His best offensive season was in 1992-93 when he finished fifth in the NHL with 132 points. He was selected to five NHL All-Star Games and won the 1993 Lady Byng Trophy. Though he never won a Stanley Cup, his team made the playoffs all but four times in his 19-year career. He even played in the Conference Final twice and captained his team for one season.
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Player B: This player recorded 319 goals and 378 assists for 697 points in his 14-year career. Though he was a six-time 30-goal scorer, he was also known as one of the toughest players in the NHL in his day. He recorded over 1000 career penalty minutes while protecting his future Hall of Fame linemates. He also helped lead his team to four consecutive Stanley Cup victories from 1980 to 1983; was selected to two All-Star Games, and captained his team for two seasons.
One of these players is in the HHoF; the other is not. Can you guess who is who?
Turgeon is evidence that offensive production alone usually does not guarantee a spot in the Hall of Fame, so there must be other factors that determine a player’s eligibility.
Evaluating the Criteria for a HHoF Bid
The trouble with hockey is that it doesn’t have a statistical threshold that equates to an HHoF bid. In baseball, unless you violate MLB rules, recording 300 wins or obtaining 3000 hits will get you a one-way ticket to Cooperstown. Hockey doesn’t have a direct parallel. One might think that 500 goals or 800 assists would do the trick, but Turgeon has been waiting ten years to get his bid.
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The Turgeon and Gillies examples show that sometimes, team contribution is just as important as individual achievement. Of course, if a player scores at a Wayne Gretzky or Jaromir Jagr rate, they will make the HHoF regardless of team contribution (for good measure, both also won multiple Stanley Cups). Nonetheless, players like Gretzky and Jagr only come about once or twice a generation. Therefore, most other players will need to have significant contributions to their team’s success.
Turgeon helped get his team to the playoffs almost every season, but he never won a Cup, or played in a Final. Furthermore, he didn’t leave a strong legacy with any team in particular. Though he played 19 seasons in the NHL, he spent his career with six different teams and never played more than five seasons with any of them.
On the other hand, Gillies served a vital role during his 12 years with the New York Islanders. Though he scored 30 goals multiple times, he knew that he was not expected to be the primary scorer. Rather, he played as a hard-checking power forward and enforcer. He would do the dirty work so that his future HHoF linemates, Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier, could score. Because of his dirty work, Gillies made his teammates better, and he was an essential factor in the Isles’ four consecutive Cups. He was deserving of his HHoF nomination.
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The ideal HHoF candidate will have strong individual achievement AND contribute to his team’s success. For a forward, points, All-Star Game appearances and individual awards are all important, but so are leadership, team success and a legacy.
What Does Giroux Still Need to Do?
The good news for Giroux is that he’s already compiled impressive individual achievements in his 15-year career. His 603 career assists are the second-most in Flyers history and 117th-most in NHL history. He has already recorded more assists than several Hall of Famers, including Mike Bossy, Pat LaFontaine and Eric Lindros. He also ranks second in franchise history with 975 games played and ninth with 284 goals.
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Furthermore, he has already been named to six NHL All-Star Games. There are only 87 players in NHL history who have played in more.
Giroux is signed for this season with the Flyers, and probably has a minimum of four more NHL seasons left in him. Over the past five seasons, he has averaged roughly 23 goals and 50 assists. If over the next five seasons, he averages 18 goals and 40 assists and if he makes it to one more NHL All-Star Game, that would give him 347 goals, 758 assists and 1,105 points.
Based on current statistics, he would finish his career ranked 43rd in assists and 62nd in points in NHL history. He would also have seven NHL All-Star Game appearances, matching Hall of Famers like Paul Kariya and Denis Savard.
With those numbers, it would be hard to argue that he lacks the individual achievement necessary for a HHoF bid. Nonetheless, those numbers alone wouldn’t be enough to get Giroux in. After all, players like Turgeon and Jeremy Roenick had better career stats yet are not in the HHoF.
Therefore, in order to be inducted, Giroux will also need to increase his team contributions. It’s not an absolute requirement, but he would give his HHoF odds a huge boost by leading the Flyers to a Stanley Cup. At the very least, he should lead them on a couple more deep playoff runs.
It would also help if he played several more seasons in Philadelphia and maybe even finished his career there. Not only would this make him the longest-tenured captain in team history, but it would also show his commitment and devotion to the team. Among those who had the greatest impact on the Flyers, Giroux would come up in the same conversation as Hall of Famers Bobby Clarke and Bill Barber.
Though Giroux still has a lot of work left to do, he has at least given himself a shot at the HHoF. Now, we just have to watch how the last chapter of his already illustrious career plays out.
Covering the Flyers for THW | Lifelong Islanders fan, but promise to become a little more sympathetic to the Flyers | Also a 4X marathon-runner | UChicago ’19