The Philadelphia Flyers honored Claude Giroux in a pregame ceremony to celebrate his 1000th NHL game in a win against the Nashville Predators on Thursday night. Bobby Clarke, the only other player in history to play 1000 games with the Flyers, presented the 34-year-old captain with the engraved silver stick. Giroux’s wife Ryanne and their two sons stood on the ice at the Wells Fargo Center during the tribute that included presentations of gifts from his teammates and a nostalgic tribute video remembering the best moments of his NHL career.
Trade speculation is swirling in Philadelphia. It seems inevitable that the franchise icon and impending unrestricted free agent will waive his no-movement clause in favor of a move to a Stanley Cup contender ahead of the NHL trade deadline on March 21. The timing of the 1000th game provided the Flyers with a convenient opportunity to honor Giroux just before he walks out the door.
Claude Giroux 1000 Times
Giroux made his NHL debut in February 2008 during an emergency two-game call-up from the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). He earned himself a full-time role midway through the 2008-09 season and quickly emerged as one of the most skilled young players in the NHL. He truly announced his arrival as an impact star during Philadelphia’s run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010.
In January 2021, he became the longest-tenured captain in Flyers history by surpassing Clarke’s previous record of 610 games wearing the “C” on his sweater. He is second in Flyers history in points, games played, and assists trailing only the legendary Clarke in all three categories. He has played on teams that have won six total playoff series and recorded 73 postseason points. He has finished fourth or higher in Hart Trophy voting three times during his career. He ranked fourth among all NHL players behind only Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, and Alexander Ovechkin in total points during the decade of the 2010s.
Giroux’s former teammates Scott Hartnell and Ian Laperriere and current teammate Sean Couturier held a virtual press conference on Monday to share their experiences with one of the greatest players in Flyers history. They all spoke to the unrelenting competitive drive that characterizes the top players in the world. Hartnell even shared a funny memory about Giroux hustling former feared NHL enforcer Craig Berube in an arm-wrestling match during a road trip in Nashville.
Flyers Legacy, Emotional Sendoff
The emotional toll that the Flyers captain has experienced during the 2021-22 season reached its pinnacle on Thursday. Giroux’s attempt to come to grips with the reality of waiving his no-movement clause to leave Philadelphia has been visible over the past few months. He admitted after the game that he was “trying to keep it together” in the moment during the pregame festivities. He thanked the organization, the fans, and his teammates in a candid conversation with the media.
It’s a rarity when professional athletes get to recognize or appreciate their final games in a specific uniform. The Flyers experienced another example of this anomaly just three years ago when Wayne Simmonds played his final game in orange and black in the NHL Stadium Series at Lincoln Financial Field. The epic comeback victory brought out a feel-good moment in the Flyers locker room after the game when Simmonds spoke in a tone that accepted the reality of his situation while acknowledging the emotion involved in the tireless effort he gave to the organization for eight seasons.
The crowd at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday perceived the same sentiment expressed by Simmonds three years ago when Giroux skated a lap with his stick raised after the final horn had sounded while the crowd roared in recognition of the excellence they saw for 14 years. While no trade details have been finalized, Giroux did not join the Flyers on their trip to face the Ottawa Senators on Friday night. The ceremony served its purpose as the final sendoff for a franchise legend who committed himself to the Flyers with every ounce of effort he had.
Colin Newby is a freelance journalist from Delaware County, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers. He is an encyclopedia of useless sports knowledge with an uncanny ability to rattle off Flyers goaltending stats from 2004 and every Stanley Cup winner during his lifetime. The depths of his knowledge stem from spending his entire life following the Flyers and the NHL, from fan favorites like the “Legion of Doom” and Claude Giroux to forgotten journeymen like Andy Delmore and Branko Radivojevič. Colin also covers the Philadelphia Eagles and works for 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia.