The Philadelphia Flyers are all ready beginning the 2014-15 season with an inauspicious start. It seems the injury bug has already infected the team as training camp began a mere seven days ago. The team was already shorthanded when All-Star defenseman Kimmo Timonen learned in early August that he had developed blood clots in his lower right leg and in both lungs. Due to the severity and multiple occurrences (suffered one in his foot after blocking a shot in the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs), he is out indefinitely. Initial reports were the Flyers have lost their Captain for at least two weeks of the preseason.
Claude Giroux was 15 minutes into the first day of practice. All the excitement and anticipation of a tabula rasa filled the air in the Virtua Center. Claude no doubt was busy catching up with teammates and engaging in early workouts when he realized something was amiss. The Flyers have not confirmed the type of injury, only listing it as the all too vaguely used “lower-body injury” designation. Speculation is he felt discomfort in the groin area, which is common when a player comes into camp under prepared.
The Flyers Captain had one of the finest seasons of his career in 2013-14. He had 86 points in 82 games and equaled his career mark in goals with 28. Giroux was rewarded for terrific season with a Hart Trophy nomination, for which he was one of three finalists. Being named with the likes of Sidney Crosby and Ryan Getzlaf was quite the honor for the 26-year-old center iceman. However, despite all the accomplishments of the season, Giroux was missing in action for the Flyers playoff match up verse the New York Rangers. He did have 2 goals and 6 points (all even strength) in the series, but disappeared as the series wore on. During the season, Giroux was the quarterback of the Flyers power-play. During the playoffs, it was a much different story. He was left without a single PP point and looked horrible. Furthermore, the Flyers seemed lost all series; lacking the leadership a Captain should bring on and off the ice.
Then the off-season hit all too quickly. Instead of using the time wisely to prepare, Giroux opted to spend Canada Day drinking and hamming it up with his friends. He created flashbacks of former Flyers Captain, Mike Richards. The end result was not too humorous for Giroux. He was arrested outside The Great Canadian Cabin in Ottawa due to an incident involving a police officer. According to the report, Giroux allegedly grabbed the buttocks of a male officer. As the face of a professional sports franchise, he should have known better. He’s old enough to be responsible for his actions. After being released the following day, Giroux issued the following statement: “I regret my actions on Canada Day and sincerely apologize to my fans, teammates and the Philadelphia Flyers organization for my misguided attempt at humor… I will not be distracted from my ongoing preparation for the upcoming season. I remain 100% committed and focused on working with my team to return the Stanley cup to Philadelphia” (Flyers.com, July 2014). But did he truly learn his lesson and come into training camp prepared? This early injury signals towards the answer of NO.
Giroux says he will undoubtedly play in Game 1 in Boston. Says he would like to play a couple preseason games to develop line chemistry.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) September 25, 2014
Things are looking up for G, as the Flyers faithful often dub their Captain. Although it’s only been a week, he resumed skating with the team on Thursday. The session was light, but after the initial timetable of two weeks, it was certainly an encouraging sign. He was surprisingly able to make fairly quick cuts. Giroux participated in roughly 20 minutes of practice, centering on skating and shooting without taking part in any drills, according to reports from the Flyers Skate Zone facility. The Flyers captain was adamant about being ready for the season opener verse the Boston Bruins on October 8 and may return for a preseason game or two.
The Flyers must preach patience with their eager Captain even though he would like to play in the preseason. As productive as it would be for Giroux to get up to speed before the season, it is important to be at full strength and not risk aggravating the injury in a game that doesn’t count.
The most recent developments are heartening as Giroux will once again be looked to for production and leadership in the 2014-15 season. The question is will he deliver as he did in the regular season last year or will he once again be missing in action.
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