When Flyers icon Bobby Clarke selected Claude Giroux in the first round in the 2006 draft, (22nd overall) the Flyers then general manager had a brain cramp at the podium. He couldn't remember the future All-Star's name.
It's hard to believe that Clarkie had a senior moment when it came to Giroux and perhaps even harder to believe that 21 players were selected before the Flyers shifty center.
These days everyone knows Giroux's name at the Wells Fargo Center. His surname echoes off the walls every time he tallies a point, which is often these days.
Giroux leads the league with 39 points and is third with 16 goals. Giroux had a breakout campaign last season but he's upping the ante this time around. Giroux is playing like a possible MVP.
"There's no doubt about that," Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk said. "He had a very good year last year and he's just taking it to another level right now. You can't help but be impressed by him."
Jaromir Jagr, who knows something about playing with special forwards, calls Giroux 'little Mario,' comparing his linemate with his former Pittsburgh Penguin teammate Mario Lemieux, who is enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
"I just can't believe I have the opportunity to play with him at my age (39)," Jagr said. "He is just a great little player."
Max Talbot, another former Pen in orange and black, played with the brilliant Sidney Crosby the last few seasons.
"They're both at the top (of the talent echelon)," Talbot said. "He (Giroux) has been just tremendous from the start of the season."
Giroux isn't just an extraordinary player, he's a quirky guy. Just check out his dyed black mustache, which doesn't quite match his strawberry blonde hair.
"He's a funny guy," van Riemsdyk said. "He's great to be around on and off the ice."
On the ice is where Giroux helps propel the Flyers toward a top playoff seeding. "That's what it's all about," Giroux said. "Individual things are nice but it's all about the team and how far we can go. We want to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals and win it all. We're going for it as a team."
Giroux is adding the offensive punch for a squad that many pundits thought would have trouble finding the back of the net with the departure of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. But Giroux, Jagr, Briere and the rest of the squad have been one of the top offensive teams in the game.
"I think we're just going to get better," Girioux said. "We're starting to get more and more comfortable together. We had quite a few new guys coming in and we've really come together. I really like we are as a team. We're only going to get better. We'll need to be the best we can be toward the end of the season. I'm going to do my best."
So far, Giroux's best has been about the best in the league, though he will miss tilts vs. the Capitals and Canadiens after taking a shot to the head last weekend.
"Claude is continuing to feel better," general manager Paul Holmgren said in a statement. "He will not travel with the team (to Washington) and will be seen by our doctor again (Tuesday)."
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