Philadelphia Flyers to honor Claude Giroux’s 1,000th game before possibly trading him

PHILADELPHIA — The party scheduled for Claude Giroux’s 1,000th game with the Philadelphia Flyers seems suitably lavish for a team captain who has spent his entire career with the franchise.

The Flyers will celebrate Giroux and his family before Thursday night’s game and have invited special guests of honor. Giroux will receive custom artwork, fans can purchase commemorative tickets, and players will wear warm-up jerseys with “Giroux” and the number 28 on the back.

If that didn’t whet the appetite for a 15-year-old party, maybe it will: Giroux’s favorite snack – grilled cheese sandwiches he used to eat superstitiously before every game – will be on sale for everyone arena levels. .

The evening should be a celebration of a career that includes 291 goals, 900 points, a trip to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final and this season’s All-Star Game MVP trophy.

But not so deeply, everyone involved knows what the ceremony is really about: it’s time to say goodbye.

Giroux’s 1,000th career game with the Flyers could be his last in orange and black as the 34-year-old center plays out the final months of his contract. The NHL trade deadline is Monday at 3 p.m. ET, and with the Flyers ranked last (18-30-11, 47 points) in the Metropolitan Division, the obvious parting gift is to send Giroux to a competitor.

Giroux and the Flyers tried to play down trade talks as they approached the 1,000-game milestone, but the rift seemed almost inevitable. Giroux can finally pursue the championship that eluded him, while the Flyers could get the draft picks and prospects needed to replenish a faltering roster. The Flyers are years away from the dispute, and Giroux no longer has time in his career to stick around for a rebuild.

“If I can be honest, I’m trying to focus on playing 1,000 games with the Flyers,” Giroux said Wednesday. “It’s something I’m proud of. I’m very happy to have had the chance to do this. After that, it’s going to be, change the mindset a bit and see how things are going to go. “

He became a family man during his tenure, with a wife and two young sons. Giroux’s parents and other family members attended Wednesday’s practice in New Jersey, and other friends and former teammates will attend the game day festivities.

Some of Giroux’s best moments have come off the ice, like the time former coach Craig Berube challenged Giroux to an arm wrestling contest at a bar in Nashville, Tennessee. Let former Flyer Scott Hartnell explain:

“I was the referee with my hands on them ready to arm wrestle,” Hartnell said. “G kind of let Chief get the first win. Then, just like the movie ‘Over the Top’ starring Sylvester Stallone, here we go [whipping noise] and pounded him and punched him in the face all over. We were just becoming bananas. I think we got Chief out of the bar because he was embarrassed that he lost.”

Some of Giroux’s other best moments:

• Giroux crushed Sidney Crosby five seconds into the game, buried his sixth goal of the series past Marc-André Fleury just 27 seconds later and led the Flyers to a decisive playoff win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2012. Giroux gestured to the crowd and slammed the glass in celebration of his goal, attracting 20,000 fans and responding to former coach Peter Laviolette’s hype that Giroux was the “best player in the world”.

• As the Flyers lost 2-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, Giroux delivered in the clutch in a must-win third game. He scored 5 minutes and 59 seconds into overtime to give the Flyers a 4–3 win. “He smiled all day, he came to the arena and he had a great game. A talented boy,” Laviolette said.

• Giroux’s first career regular season hat trick helped the Flyers clinch a playoff berth on the final day of the 2017-18 season. He finished that season with 34 goals and 102 points, the only time he surpassed 100 points in his career.

• The Flyers packed nearly 70,000 fans into the NFL Stadium across the street for an away game against the Penguins in 2019. Trailing by two goals in the third period, the Flyers scored twice in the final minutes and Giroux had the winner 1:59 into overtime, sending what remained of the sold-out crowd into a frenzy.

“I think it may have taken me a little while to figure out what it’s like to play in Philadelphia,” Giroux said. “I have to understand and understand how they are. They are completely crazy. Their passion, how they want to win. You have to respect their way of thinking, their way of acting.”

A first-round pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, Giroux will join Hall of Famer and two-time Stanley Cup champion Bobby Clarke as the only players to reach 1,000 games entirely with the Flyers. Giroux made his debut on February 19, 2008, scored his first goal on January 27, 2009, and was named captain on January 15, 2013.

He did just about everything except lead the Flyers to a championship.

“It’s completely unfair to put on G the fact that we don’t have a Stanley Cup,” Flyers coach Mike Yeo said Wednesday. “I hope that time comes for him, where he’s a Stanley Cup winner.”

But where? Giroux will have to waive his no-move clause that was part of his eight-year, $66.2 million contract.

There were reasons beyond his 1,000th game for the Flyers to wait. Because of how the NHL salary cap works, teams can accumulate space daily and afford more on deadline day. The Colorado Avalanche, who have been linked to Giroux, completed a trade on Tuesday to save $1.275 million in cap space and still have the choices and prospects to facilitate a deal with Philadelphia.

“I mean, the love for the game is still there,” Giroux said.

Just like his love for Philly.

But he would surely enjoy lifting the Stanley Cup a little more this season.

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