Claude Giroux is the eighteenth captain of the Philadelphia Flyers and has become a household name in Philadelphia sports since being promoted to the team full-time during the 2008-2009 season. With his tremendous puck-handling skills and unmatched finesse on the ice, Claude has earned many accolades during his time with the Flyers including 3 All-Star Game appearances, and leading the team to the Stanley Cup Finals, winning the Prince of Wales Trophy in 2010. He has also amassed many team awards, including the Bob Clarke Trophy and Toyota Cup, each on 3 separate occasions. Claude has been named the 2011 Pro Athlete of the Year by the Philadelphia Sports Writer's Association, and he followed that up by being awarded the Philadelphia Sports Congress' John Wannamaker Athletic Award in 2012.
Early Beginnings and Junior Career
All of these achievements paint the story of a superstar NHL hockey player, but Claude has been lightning on the ice for most of his life, going back to when he was a child. He’s a native of Hearst, Ontario, Canada, where he grew up with his parents, Raymond and Nicole, and his sister Isabel. When he was 13 years old in 2001, he played Bantam hockey for his hometown Hearst Lumber Kings in the Northern Ontario Hockey Association. When the family picked up and moved to Ottawa just two years later, Claude took his budding hockey talents to Major Bantam Hockey when he suited up for the Cumberland Barons, earning a promotion to the organizations Minor Midget AA club during its 2003-2004 season. His skill on the ice was apparent even then, as he recorded 31 goals and 28 assists for 59 point for his team, and because of his talent, he moved up to Junior A ice hockey to play for the Cumberland Grads.
Despite his early success, Claude would still need to impress in his final season prior to the Canadian Junior Draft if he wanted an opportunity to be selected. Unfortunately, Claude suffered from mononucleosis during that season, limiting his appearances to only 48 of the team’s 62 games. Even though he still managed 13 goals and 27 assists for 40 points during the shortened campaign, Claude’s numbers did not impress OHL teams, leading him to be undrafted.
However, this setback opened another door for Claude – he was invited to training camp by the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he had 3 impressive seasons with the team. After being selected 22nd overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, he was invited to represent Canada in the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Junior Hockey (Under 20) Tournament in 2008. Claude’s 2 goals and 4 assists in 8 games were instrumental in Canada winning the gold medal in the tournament that year.
Claude spent 33 games of seasoning with the American Hockey League Philadelphia Phantoms, where he collected 17 goals and 17 assists. While his initial season with the Flyers was smaller on the statline, he did his part to help the team get to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2009-2010 season, even scoring an overtime game winner in Game 3.
Claude’s time would truly come once the Flyers traded away longtime leaders and cornerstones Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. The trades were made in part because of the organization’s faith that Giroux was ready to carry the load as the team’s top scorer, and he hasn’t failed to disappoint in that respect ever since. During the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs against the team's hated rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, he scored his first career hat trick and finished the game with 6 points, setting a Flyers record for most points in a single playoff game. His impressive overall performance during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs helped to earn Claude the cover of NHL 13, making him the first Flyer ever to be on the cover of an EA NHL video game since Eric Lindros over a decade prior.
Despite the team's struggles during the subsequent seasons, Claude Giroux has remained a dominant force on the ice. He was named the 19th Flyers captain in 2013, taking over from teammate Chris Pronger after the latter suffered an indefinite injury. He finished as a runner-up to the Hart Trophy in the 2013-14 season after being snubbed for Canada's Olympic team. He recently played a key role during Canada's gold medal run in the 2015 IIHF World Championship, where he scored 10 points in 10 games.
Still exciting to watch and still in the prime of his electric career, Claude Giroux hopes to lead the Flyers to the NHL promised land with a Stanley Cup Championship soon.