Claude Giroux scored 13 goals and assisted on 35 others in 2012-13 season. (USA Today Images)
Claude Giroux turned 25 last January 12. That was the day the new CBA was finally ratified between the players and the NHL.
Since the lockout ended, nothing has gone right for the Flyers and their still-fairly-new captain.
Poor start last January. A plethora of injuries. Missing the playoffs. The buyout of Giroux’s closest friend, Danny Briere.
And now the firing of Peter Laviolette after a terrible pre-season, followed by an 0-3 start.
It’s not an impressive resume for any hockey captain, let alone a young one like Giroux.
“If it doesn’t kill me, it’s going to make me stronger,” Giroux said Tuesday morning. “That is how I look at it. I am not going to back down from anything.
“Everybody loves everyone in the room. On paper, we are an unbelievable team. But I think we got to go on the ice and show it.”
Former captains Kimmo Timonen, Mark Streit and Vinny Lecavalier are there to help him. For now, Giroux seems like his own man.
“That was a tough day, yesterday,” he said. “I was with Lavy for a while. To see him leave is a little sad. It’s the business part of it and we need to understand that.
“Having Chief (Craig Berube) coming in is going to have a different mindset. We only have today to work on some stuff. Guys are pretty excited to get back on track.”
Giroux said he had not spoken to Laviolette since the firing. Flyers chairman Ed Snider and general manager Paul Holmgren were rather candid in their assessment of the club looking “disorganized” and “lost,” which is something a captain never wants to hear about this team.
“We’re the ones on the ice, doing the job and, obviously, we didn’t get the job done,” Giroux said. “We need to play more as a team on the ice. There’s no doubt off the ice we’re a team. We like each other. We need to show it on the ice.
“We need to support each other. We don’t look like a team on the ice. We don’t play. When a guy has the puck, the other guys are not working to get open for him. That is something as players that has to change. And it will change, too.
“You want to win. Winning and working hard and that was not the case to start the season, but I’m really confident that is going to change ...”
Tuesday’s morning skate was very different. Instead of 30 minutes, it lasted almost an hour. Berube had them practicing situational play for tonight’s game against Florida. He also tweaked lines and defense pairings, going back to two pairs from last season (see story).
Seemed like a cram session.
“No, it wasn’t that bad,” Giroux said. “He didn’t want put too much at us right away. We hit on the bigger pieces. It’s going to be a process to make sure everyone is on the same page.”
Berube told reporters he emphasized better team defense in his player meeting.
“Like he said too, play without the puck,” Giroux said. “Being in good position. Being where you need to be and supporting your teammates, basically. We’re playing as individuals right now and you don’t win like that. The whole team needs to be on the same page and working together.”
Three of four lines will change for the Panthers game.
The rotation on the right side of Giroux’s line this month has gone from Jakub Voracek to Brayden Schenn back to Voracek.
Under Berube, it will be Wayne Simmonds this evening.
“Same game plan, he twisted a couple things,” Giroux said. “We have a lot of smart hockey players here. Whatever adjustments we have to do, we will have to focus and get it done.
“Lavy is gone, Kato [Kevin McCarthy] is gone. Guys want to win. Guys care. Chief is a smart hockey guy. Everyone is behind him. We’re going to do everything we can to do what he wants on the ice.”