Paul Holmgren likes to tell this story about Claude Giroux's dedication to being the very best he can.
It begins with the 2007 Super Series -- the follow-up to the historic Summit Series -- between Russia and Canada.
Giroux, then 19, was one of Canadas emerging juniors that summer.
He had just finished that series, went all the way across Russia to play four games, then all the way across Canada and played four games, the Flyers general manager recalled.
He flew the red eye from Vancouver to Philadelphia, came into training camp the next morning and had a two-mile run. He lapped a number of guys.
Holmgren was sitting in the middle of a track by himself when Giroux, plopped himself down beside his boss.
He says to me, So, what are your plans for me?" Holmgren laughed. Hes a confident kid.
On Tuesday, Giroux won an award that not even Eric Lindros, unquestionably the most dominant Flyer of the 1990s, ever did -- the Wanamaker Award as the citys top athlete.
Giroux beat out nine other finalists, including Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, local boxer Bernard Hopkins and Phillies outfielder Hunter Pence.
I didnt know what the award was until I looked it up, said Giroux, who along with club chairman Ed Snider and others, were honored Tuesday at the Crystal Tea Room atop the old Wanamaker building (now Macys).
Its bigger than I thought. Its a great honor to win this award. Its weird to see that Lindros never won and he had a lot of great years. I feel pretty lucky to win this.
Giroux had a career-season with 93 points, third best in the NHL and the most by a Flyer since Lindros (93 points) in 1998-99.
Basically, its for somebody who has the ability to rock the city,coach Peter Laviolette said as he introduced Giroux. Somebody who can bring it.
Giroux is recovering from dual wrist surgery, which the club has been vague about discussing (see story).
Its Chinese to me, Giroux said of what was wrong with his wrists. It was up and down during the season ... It wasnt bad the whole year long.
Just bad enough that linemate Scott Hartnell began taking some of his draws starting on March 6 against Detroit, an arrangement that lasted the remainder of the regular season and playoffs.
Giroux admitted hes slightly behind on his summer, upper-body conditioning program, because he still cant grip. He can barely shake hands.
Incredibly, up until Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final between Los Angeles and New Jersey, Giroux -- despite those two painful wrists -- was still the leading scorer in the playoffs with 17 points.
It doesnt matter, Giroux said. Im still out. If I had two goals and we were playing in the finals, Id be more happy about that.
Laviolette began his introduction of Giroux with a story. He said during his NHL coaching career, he had never had an athlete come up to him and ask to play the first shift, then promise making an impact on that shift.
Prior to Game 6 against Pittsburgh, Giroux asked Laviolette for that opportunity.
I didnt know this at the time, but he went back to get water by the bench and told two of his teammates, wait till you see this, Laviolette said of the moment.
Girouxs first shift saw him drill Penguin captain Sidney Crosby, then score after 28 seconds to begin what would become a 5-1 rout in the series-clinching win.
Anything you do in life, you want to be the best at it, Giroux said. Lavy gave me a chance to prove myself and have a big role on team and be a leader. I was very excited to have that role and excited for next year, too.
Giroux is not watching the Final, even though former buddies Simon Gagne, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter are, as of this writing, just one win away from their first Stanley Cup.
Just painful to watch when you know you could have had a chance to be in the Stanley Cup Final and youre not, Giroux said. Its tough.
Aside from the Wanamaker, Girouxs also up for one more honor: He's battling Nashvilles Pekka Rinne to grace the cover of EA Sports' NHL13 video next season. The fan voting ended Monday night.
Oh, one more thing. Holmgren likes to also point out that as impressive as Giroux was that 07 training camp, he still got sent back to his junior club in Gatineau.
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