Farewell Tour Begins?: Claude Giroux Wins NHL All-Star Game MVP
Claude Giroux’s name is going to be in the headlines for the next several weeks. Until his future is at least partially resolved at the trade deadline on March 21, you will hear a lot about Giroux’s time as a Flyer, and what the next chapter could be and where it could take place.
It’s still too soon to know the answer to that question, but it sure seems like the farewell tour is underway. Fans should be embracing every goal for the remainder of Giroux’s career.
It seems fitting, then, that Giroux’s seventh trip to the NHL All-Star Game and possibly final one as a Flyer ended with the Metropolitan Division securing a victory with Giroux as captain. Giroux scored twice in the championship game against the Central Division, a 5-3 victory for the Metro, after scoring a goal and adding an assist in the first game of Saturday afternoon’s event in a 6-4 win over the Pacific Division to take home MVP honors.
Giroux becomes the third Flyer to win All-Star Game MVP, joining Reggie Leach in 1980 and Wayne Simmonds in 2017.
For the 34-year-old Flyers captain, who just appeared in his 700th game as the team’s leader, it was a new experience from before with his son, Gavin, able to attend the festivities and share in the experience.
"It was a great weekend, especially spending it with my wife and my oldest, Gavin," Giroux said. "We've been doing a lot of cool stuff, just taking it all in. We're going to stay for one more day, just hang out. It's been fun so far."
It shows where Giroux is at in his career and in life. As a player, time is running out to achieve the ultimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup. It is increasingly likely that he will pursue that opportunity elsewhere, in a location to be determined in just a few weeks.
"Just enjoy the weekend," Giroux said. "There's a lot of things to figure out, but that's for another day."
Giroux is also approaching another milestone, both in Flyers history and NHL history. Giroux is 15 games away from reaching 1,000 games for his career. He would be the second Flyers player to reach that career total in the Orange and Black. Only Bobby Clarke has more games played in Flyers history at 1,144.
If Giroux were to play in each of the next 15 games, he would reach the 1,000-game milestone on March 17 in a game against the Nashville Predators at Wells Fargo Center. It would be four days away from the NHL’s trade deadline. This could be Giroux’s ride off into the sunset after 15 years as a Flyer.
"It's been an honor to put that jersey on," Giroux said. "It's been for years, it's been a lot of fun, and any time you get to represent them it's definitely an honor."
But it sure seemed like the narrative was already present at a national NHL event. Giroux is going to be the name at the trade deadline. The respect he has around the league was also on full display at the All-Star Game.
"Good to see. Been a trouper in this league for a long time, kind of carrying the torch a little bit for this league in these events," Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour, representing the Metropolitan Division, said. "Then to come out and be one of the best guys on the ice, that says a lot."
"You could tell right from the beginning, even before the game, he mentioned to us, 'We're here, we might as well win it', and when a guy like him, he's captain of the team here, he's been captain of the Flyers for so long, when he's saying that, he's going hard, I think it kind of just drags everyone else into it," Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski said. "We all felt that from the beginning, and I think it just carried over throughout the games, and like I said, we found a way to win."
Giroux and the Flyers return to the ice on Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center against the Detroit Red Wings, the next game on the countdown to 1,000 for Giroux. It will also start what could potentially be the final six weeks to show Giroux some appreciation for his dedication to the Flyers and to appreciate what he brought to the ice, even in seasons like this one.