The Flyers welcomed back their captain and freshly minted NHL All-Star Game MVP Claude Giroux to the Skate Zone in Voorhees, NJ Tuesday by clubbing their sticks on the ice to the rhythmic sound of “MVP! MVP!” … until he skated to the middle of the team stretching circle in acknowledgment.
The Flyers still admire the center who remains, at 34, one of the top players in the league.
“It felt really uncomfortable, but it was great,” Giroux said of the extra attention paid to him on the practice ice. “Since I got here this morning they made me feel pretty special. So it was fun.”
Giroux continues to shine, even as the Flyers scuffle near the bottom of the standings, and the three goals he scored over the weekend in the All-Star game(s) was just one more showcase moment for him as the March 21 trade deadline draws close.
His future in Philly is complicated: Giroux would have to waive his no-movement clause as he plays out the final months of his $66.2 million, eight-year contract, and the Flyers could surely get prospects or a first-round pick in return.
Giroux’s salary this season is only $5 million, which would make it easier for smaller-market teams to take on as a pro-rated “rental player.” Boston, Calgary, Minnesota and Colorado are among the playoff contenders that could be in the mix for the All-Star. He would then become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
“He’s clearly not done,” Flyers interim coach Mike Yeo said. “He’s a determined player and performing at a very high level.”
Giroux’s 15 goals and 35 points are both second behind Cam Atkinson on the Flyers, and the former first-round pick — who made his debut in 2008 — continues to shoot near the top of most of the franchise’s major career offensive records.
“I think we have to recognize what we’re dealing with here, he’s a franchise icon, his jersey’s going to be in the rafters,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said recently. “To me, he’s a Hall of Fame player.”
Fletcher and Giroux’s agent, Pat Brisson, met recently and often speak about the All-Star’s fate. But as for that no-movement clause…
“It’ll be Claude’s decision,” Fletcher said.
Giroux was a star on the rise when he helped lead the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010. He has finished as high as fourth in 2018 in NHL MVP voting. But it’s been lean years since then, none as worse as this season’s team headed into Wednesday’s game against Detroit. Philadelphia (15-22-8) lost a franchise-record 13 straight games, and it has only 38 points this season. The Flyers are about to miss the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since a string of five straight absences from 1990-94.
They tapped into one of Giroux’s former teammates on Tuesday to try and steady the franchise. Danny Briere, who spent six seasons with the Flyers and had 30 points in that 2010 run, was officially named special assistant to the general manager.
As losses mount, Giroux has downplayed his impending decision and declined to discuss what could make him give the Flyers a list of teams he would consider as a potential trade destination.
“I’m not going to think about this right now,” Giroux said at the All-Star game. “Just enjoy the weekend. There’s a lot of things to figure out, but that’s for another day.”
Giroux, who has four goals and two assists over the last 10 games, brought his wife and 2½-year-old son Gavin with him to the All-Star festivities in Las Vegas and clearly enjoyed the family time. His wife, Ryanne, posted weekend snapshots of Gavin on dad’s shoulders, inside the locker room, asleep on dad’s arms on the plane.
“I think he took a picture with all the mascots,” Giroux said.
Giroux had a million reasons to cherish the extravaganza. The seven-time All-Star won his first MVP award with two goals in the final and another in the semifinal. Giroux also picked up a slice of the $1 million check shared among the winning players as the captain of the Metropolitan squad — a role he got after Alex Ovechkin tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week.
“He’s been setting the bar and I’ve been happy for him getting personal accolades, as well,” Yeo said.