February 19, 2012

What's His Name? It's Claude Giroux

When the Philadelphia Flyers drafted Claude Giroux 22nd overall in 2006, Flyers legend Bobby Clarke announced the acquisition by infamously forgetting the kid's name.

Ever since, and especially this season, Claude Giroux has made sure Clarke and just about everybody else in the hockey world will ever forget his name again. And in doing so he has drawn comparisons to Clarkie, the greatest Flyer of them all.

He already has emerged as the face of Philadelphia hockey, to no surprise to the Flyers. There simply was no way the Flyers would have traded fellow young stars Jeff Carter and Mike Richards last summer if it were not for the play of Giroux. The Flyers knew they could afford to trade away their two cornerstone forwards in part because the believed they had a better player in waiting. It appears they were right.

Of course, the face of hockey in Philadelphia will always be compared to the ultimate Flyer, Bobby Clarke. Not that Giroux plays the same chippy style as Clarke was famous for. But he plays with the same level of creativity and passion, sharing an extreme desire to win.

“I don’t compare myself to him at all. He’s obviously a Hall of Famer and he’s a good player. He played with a lot of attitude and played hard and he was a great leader,” Giroux recently told Philadelphia Sports Daily. “If I can even be close to him, that’s good enough.”

If being the face of hockey in Philadelphia is not daunting enough, how about being the face of hockey in all of Canada. Giroux currently ranks 2nd in the league in scoring, trailing only Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin. Giroux is quite arguably the best Canadian player in hockey this season, with all due respect to Steven Stamkos and Jonathon Toews. With Sidney Crosby's future in doubt, it is Giroux who might emerge as the face of Canadian hockey as the 2014 Olympics approach.

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