Let Your Stick Do The Talking

Claude Giroux is frustrated. He should be, he has fewer goals than Phoenix’s goaltender Mike Smith (one), and just as many as the guy writing this article (zero). He’s the Captain now, and the weight of this struggling team is on his shoulders. Recently, he gave a press conference and had this to say about his team’s plight:
“When you have the record we have right now, you’re a little frustrated and you try to figure out what’s going on but everybody came to the rink and we know there’s a lot of hockey left to play here, we’re not far at all. How many points are we off, six? To think that with the start we had, we’re that close. We’ve never thought that we’re not going to make the playoffs.”

Playoffs? We’re 9 games in, how ‘bout we focus on putting the puck in the net once or twice before we talk about playoffs. Obviously Giroux has to be the voice of optimism in this situation. We know it’s already bad in Philadelphia on the ice, and its likely even worse behind closed doors. The Philly media is notoriously harsh on failure, and this has been an unprecedentedly poor start by the Flyers, a team that only 3 years ago was in the Stanley Cup Finals. Having a poor attitude, or even getting testy when the chips are down has generally been a good way to get a one-way ticket out of town with this franchise (*cough Richards & Carter *cough), and I think Giroux would like to stay. So what else can he do?
Here’s what he can do, he can be “The Best Player In The World.” His (former) coach Peter Laviolette blessed (cursed?) him with that title in 2012, and he’s had a hard time living up to it. The thing is, he really IS that good. I don’t need to dump a bunch of numbers on you to make my argument, just watch the guy play (preferably clips from last year…). Giroux is quick, smart and outrageously skilled. There is no doubt he’s the best on the team, and now he needs to play like it. The best thing he could do right now is take a page from new Metropolitan Division rival, Alexander Ovechkin.
Say what you want about Ovechkin’s leadership in the locker room, he is the heartbeat of the team on the ice. I and many others have been critical of his apparent lack of leadership skills amongst his teammates, but when the skates hit the ice, all eyes are on #8 and his play dictates the ebb and flow of the team. Last season, with the Capitals poised to miss the playoffs midseason, Ovechkin took the team on his shoulders and carried them to the playoffs. He went on a spellbinding points streak that even the biggest critics were impressed by. It won him some hardware too, but not a Cup. Guys like that are what the Flyers need in a captain. The last person a Philly fan would want Giroux compared with is Sidney Crosby, but he and Jonathan Toews are another example of captains who pick up their teammates through their own performance

The point is this: Players won’t always listen to what you say, but they will always watch what you do. I know it’s not simply as easy as just flipping a switch to go out and net points in the NHL, but Giroux has the skills to do it. Maybe he’s not the BEST player in the world, but he’s darn close. Maybe the turmoil in the front office is taking his mind off his game. Or maybe the weight of that “C” hangs a little heavy on the front of his sweater. Regardless, it’s time to let the stick do the talking.

Scott Huntington

Scott Huntington is a writer, reporter, blogger, and long-time hockey fan. He’s also a researcher expert for Maxwell Systems and enjoys spending his free time outside with his family (whenever there’s not a game on, that is). Scott will posting his thoughts on the NHL throughout the season but you can find him on Twitter @smhuntington 

Neil Tucker

Neil has written on ice hockey for many websites concentrating on British ice hockey mostly. Neil also covers ice hockey in other countries and organises his Blueliner Hockey Tour. A graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University Neil turned his hand to hockey writing in 2009. As well as contributing on Blueliner Hockey Neil has contributed to Get Real Hockey and Slapshot Magasine.

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