Giroux's growth as leader has Flyers on a roll

Giroux's growth as leader has Flyers on a roll
March 20, 2014, 9:00 am
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Claude Giroux leads the NHL with 51 points since Dec. 11. (USA Today Images)

No one has ever accused Claude Giroux of having such an influence on teammates that he might be hockey’s version of Joe Carroll on “The Following.”

Then again, Scott Hartnell suggested on Wednesday that the Flyers' captain actually does have enormous influence.

“The way he plays, he can probably say whatever he wants,” Hartnell said. “I’ll follow him to the Ben Franklin Bridge and jump off if he will lead the way. He’s just got a presence about him, I think.

“Maybe more so now than even last year when he got the captaincy. He’s just a great guy. You talk to him for five minutes and you just love his energy. He’s got great energy. It just flows through everybody.”

Giroux, the hottest player in the NHL since Dec. 11 (51 points), is fourth in the league in scoring and has had a profound effect on the Flyers in the second half.

Several players and even Flyers coach Craig Berube have remarked this week that the 26-year-old from Hearst, Ont., is much more of a vocal captain now than he was in his first season last year.

Asked about Giroux’s growth as a captain, Berube said, “Big time -- just in leadership. He leads on the ice. He goes out there and works hard … He leads in practice and in the game in his skating. People follow.”

The last vocal captain the Flyers had was obviously Chris Pronger. Back in March of 2011 when Pronger was still playing, he chewed out Giroux in the dressing room after a 4-1 win over Edmonton in which he felt certain players were slacking in small details.

It makes you wonder how much of Pronger’s vocal authority Giroux has picked up on. One thing seems certain: Giroux handles things differently than Pronger. Interestingly, Giroux often now refers to “details” in how the Flyers play.

While Giroux never appreciated how Pronger delivered his message, he obviously understood the message itself. Details are no longer overlooked.

“I think Prongs made everybody accountable for everything you did,” Hartnell said. “You turn the puck over in the first period of a game, he wasn’t a guy to not say anything about it, not make you feel bad that you screwed up.

“I wouldn’t say G is like that, but guys want to be accountable to him. Maybe not as vocal as Prongs. But when I’m playing with G, I want to be the best I can be every night, get him the puck, go to the net -- things are happening with our line.

“It’s good to have that fear. It’s tough to let a guy like that down. It’s definitely fun to play with a guy like that.”

Hartnell says Giroux is even more vocal on the team’s private chartered plane -- in a funny way.

“I think the first few years, the language, making fun of the way he talked,” Hartnell said of teammates getting on Giroux. “He’s really grown in … he feels more comfortable with himself, speaking English and whatnot.

“I remember the odd time on the plane when he asked the flight attendant for some ‘fruits.’ And I was like, ‘No, it’s just fruit.’ So we laughed about little things like that.

“Around the dressing room he’s been vocal, but he’s been the guy making the plays to happen and guys follow suit with that, and that’s what you want in a leader.”