VOORHEES, N.J. -- The question surrounding the Claude Giroux debate these days isnt whether the dynamic center will be named the 19th captain of the Flyers, but when.
Sporting a 'C' going into training camp would be nice.
General manager Paul Holmgren said on CSN this week it would happen in the coming days. Perhaps on Saturday when Giroux turns 25?
Its a decision that they have to think about, Giroux said. Its a big decision, but at the same time, it doesnt matter if you have a C or A or nothing on your jersey if you lead by example on the ice or if you feel comfortable enough to speak in the room.
I dont think you need a letter on your jersey to do that. Kimmo Timonen, Danny Briere did that. They were captains before and whatever decision they make, I dont think its gonna make a difference on how we play and how were gonna be in the room or really on the ice.
Mike Richards was 23 when the captaincy was bestowed upon him. In hindsight, he wasnt ready for it and never felt comfortable wearing the letter.
It was almost as if the franchise willed it to be because so many people considered Richards to be the next Bobby Clarke.
Too many Flyers' captaincies since 2000 have come because of bad circumstances. Eric Lindros got stripped of it over concussions and a reluctant Eric Desjardins accepted it, only to give it up after a year amid rancor in the dressing room.
Keith Primeau took over and deserved it, but post-concussion syndrome ended his career and the club gave it to Derian Hatcher, whose best years were behind him.
Hatcher only had it very briefly before Ken Hitchcock gave it to Peter Forsberg and well all those foot injuries. The C seldom appeared on the ice.
Jason Smith was a longtime captain in Edmonton and inherited the 'C' after Forsberg was traded, but he, too, was at the end of his career.
That forced Clarkes hand to find a younger player.
Hence, Richards received the C and held it for three seasons until his trade to the Kings, after which it rolled over to the obvious and most deserving player -- Chris Pronger.
Pronger hasnt played since 2011 and likely wont ever again because of post-concussion syndrome.
So, in the past 12 years, seven Flyers have worn the C -- a much higher turnover than normal by NHL standards.
Giroux, who undoubtedly will be re-signed long term this summer, affords Holmgren a legitimate chance of lending some stability to the captaincy.
Yes, Timonen and Briere are also worthy candidates, but by giving this to Giroux, the Flyers -- once they re-sign him -- are assured of finally having some longevity in a young captain for a very long time.
And heres the thing: Giroux has outright earned it.
Over the course of the last three years, since Ive been here, every step that he has taken you can almost see a timeline, coach Peter Laviolette said. The way he played in the regular season. The first step in the playoffs, that year we went to the finals. The way he played the next year in the playoffs again.
"Every step for him has been a step in the right direction as an elite player and a tremendous leader for our club.
You saw it last season after Richards and Jeff Carter were dealt. Giroux came into camp and announced he felt it was incumbent upon him to take the mantle of leadership among the younger players while raising his own game.
All he did was win the Bobby Clarke Trophy for the second consecutive year as team MVP with 93 points -- the most since Lindros 93 in the 1997-98 season.
If ever a player were ready for the captaincy, its Giroux.
Its a big responsibility, obviously, but its an honor at the same time, he said when asked his feelings of being nominated.
Obviously, a lot of great captains have been in Philly, and anytime you have the chance to have that responsibility, that means they have a lot of confidence in your will to win and get the team together. Obviously, it would be a great honor.
Though the Flyers only went two rounds in the playoffs last season, Giroux laid it all out. No one will ever forget the opening shift against the Penguins in Game 6 when G buried Sidney Crosby with a check six seconds into the game, then scored 26 seconds later.
That play defined Girouxs leadership and desire to win in orange and black.
I dont look at it like that at all, Giroux smiled, appearing bashful about it. I wanted to have a good start and it just happened. I dont know.
Yes, he does.
Claude Giroux is captain material.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at email@example.com.