The best way for former captains to really get to know present captains, Mark Streit says, is in a quiet setting.
Such might be the future meal for one Claude Giroux as he begins his first full season as the Flyers’ captain.
“We’re going to go out to dinner on the road somewhere and we’ll talk,” Streit said. “There’s an awful lot of experience in this dressing room to support him.”
You can debate it as much as you want whether having multiple ex-captains is good or bad on a hockey club. Every season, the Flyers seem to have several former captains who also sit on the club’s leadership group.
This season is no different with the addition of Streit and Vinny Lecavalier, joining Kimmo Timonen to act as a sounding board for Giroux, who seemed at ease in camp with his team.
Last year was an enormous challenge to the 25-year-old Giroux.
In the lockout-shortened season, a plethora of injuries that smacked the club early and often, and the Flyers’ overall bad start doomed them given every game was against teams in their own conference, when every loss represented points against you without inter-conference play to draw even.
“Claude did a terrific job last year as captain of this team in a difficult situation,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “It’s not easy when you’re not finding the success you want, especially in a city like Philadelphia where there is an expectation to be successful.
“For a young captain, that can be a stressful situation. I think he did an amazing job. And I am not just saying that. The way he handled himself and handled this team, that is growing leadership.
“And the leadership we had in the room is a tremendous strength and support for him. When you add guys like Mark Streit and Vinny Lecavalier, and even Ray Emery, who is older now and won a Stanley Cup … you start to build a nice leadership group. That can only help Claude.”
Streit captained the Islanders and Lecavalier was a captain in Tampa Bay.
“He’s got a lot of leadership qualities,” Lecavalier said. “He’s the captain and our leader, but he has Mark Streit, who has been a captain and been around. I’ve been around a few years as well. We’re all gonna help each other to push each other and make decisions.”
Players say Giroux is still the happy-go-lucky guy he was as a rookie, long before he got a letter on his sweater.
“Any time they can help, doesn’t matter if you have a letter on your jersey or not, it’s what you can do on the ice which speaks for itself,” Giroux said. “They have been captains before. They know what to say, how to act and those are guys I will be leaning toward.”
Keith Primeau used to say the only way a captain can grow in his role is to endure some adversity along with success. Giroux already had his share of the bad.
“His job and how he handled things in a tough year, he will continue to learn from the goods and the bads of being a captain,” Laviolette said.
“I can tell you as a coach, you don’t just learn from the good times. You learn a lot more from the bad times where you have to dig in and look have to work and figure. The same thing can be said for a captain as well.”
“You learn from what you do,” Giroux said. “You start thinking of how you should do things. You learn from it. I’ve been lucky to have good veterans [around me] at the start of my career and I’m still learning, every practice, every time I go on the ice.”