How Claude Giroux regained superstar form

How Claude Giroux regained superstar form

Ray Giroux always wanted his son to have a Plan B in case his lifelong desire of playing hockey didn't pan out.

"You don't remove the dream from your kid," said Claude's father, Ray. "They need a backup plan. That's what I was trying to do with him, to bring him into work like starting at 15 years old."

Ray is a licensed electrician. It's a job like Claude's, that requires a certain precision with his hands. However, Ray always knew his son was wired a little differently. At the age of 2, Claude would wear his skates around the house.

"When I put him on the ice for the first time, usually you hold the kid or you give him a chair, but he just started to skate. It was incredible."

Growing up in Hearst, Ontario, located about 1,000 miles north of Ottawa,  the thermometer often reached minus-40 degrees. That didn't prevent Claude from lacing up his skates.

"Their feet would freeze," said Ray. "They would come in the house for awhile and then go back out. It was amazing."

20 years later, people are still amazed by what Claude can do. Wednesday night he made a series of incredible passes and finished with 3 assists, and the game's first star.

"He's amazing, the plays he makes," said Dale Weise, who compares Giroux to the Sedin twins. "He just slows the game down. "He creates offense out of nothing. There's very few players in the league that can do what he does. It's a treat to watch."

That high praise is a far cry from what was being said about Giroux coming into this season.  His numbers dipped for a third straight year and injuries appeared to be taking a toll.

"It got a little personal," Giroux said. "I try not to read too many things. Obviously, there weren't very many positive articles out there this summer. You take that as a motivation. You want to push yourself to be the best player you can be."

That line of thinking can be traced back to the advice Ray says he gave his son as a teenager: "Whatever you do, do it seriously I told him. Don't fool around at the gym... if you need some cash, I'll give you some money, but don't fool around."

With his 30th birthday next month, Giroux's mentality isn't much different.

"You got to keep working at it," he said following the Flyers' 4-3 win over the Red Wings Wednesday. "You got to keep taking care of your body."

Giroux is now on pace for a remarkable 94-point season. Speaking to Ray during the father-son trip in Pittsburgh, he said he knew his son could regain the form that made him a 4 -time All-Star, but he did have doubts about Claude's career as an electrician.

When I asked if Claude could wire my house for surround sound, Ray laughed and replied, "I don't know about that."

Hard to believe, but even Claude Giroux's hands have limitations to what they can do.

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery died Sunday morning. First responders pulled his body out of Hamilton Harbour, where he had been swimming with friends. An investigation into the cause of death is still ongoing. 

Emery was 35.

According to local authorities, Emery was checking out a friend’s boat docked at Royal Hamilton Yacht Club when the group he was with decided to jump in the water around 6:30 a.m. Emery’s body never surfaced and was eventually recovered around 2:50 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Hamilton police say Emery’s body was recovered in close proximity to where he was last seen.

Emery was last seen publicly with a handful of his former teammates Saturday night as the goaltender participated in Zac Rinaldo’s charity hockey game in Hamilton. Emery can be seen standing during the playing of “O Canada.”

"The Philadelphia Flyers are stunned and extremely saddened to hear of the tragic passing of former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery," president Paul Holmgren said in a statement from the team. "Ray was an outstanding teammate and an extremely gifted goaltender. He had exceptional athleticism, was a fierce competitor and battled in every game he played with the Flyers.

"His performances through the 2009-10 season were a very big part of the team's success in making the playoffs and reaching the Stanley Cup Final. Ray's talent, work ethic and determination helped him enjoy a successful 11-year NHL career. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."

Several of Emery’s former teammates over the years offered their condolences via Twitter after learning of the tragedy.

Former Flyer Daniel Carcillo shared the he was crushed by the news (NSFW).

Jakub Voracek also shared his condolences (NSFW).

Emery joined the Flyers in June 2009 on a one-year contract, shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 in his Flyers debut. The goaltender’s first stint in Philadelphia was cut short when he suffered a muscle tear in his abdomen in December missing the remainder of the season. Emery was later diagnosed with avascular necrosis — a degenerative condition to the bone tissue in his hip.

After undergoing successful surgery, Emery eventually joined the Ducks before winning a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013. Impressively, Emery finished the regular season with a 17-1-0 record. He re-signed with the Flyers that summer as a backup to Steve Mason.

Emery’s most infamous moment in Philadelphia came during an ugly 7-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on November 1, 2013, as the Flyers netminder pummeled Caps goalie Braden Holtby during a line brawl in the early stages of the third period.

Emery faced criminal charges over a handful of off-the-ice incidents and altercations. Most recently, he was arrested for assault with a weapon in 2017 against former fiancé Keshia Chanté. 

Emery played a total of 287 NHL games, 88 with the Flyers. 

Flyers' Danick Martel accepts qualifying offer; team re-signs Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne

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Flyers' Danick Martel accepts qualifying offer; team re-signs Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne

Updated: 9:44 p.m.

Three young forwards will all be staying in the Flyers organization, at least for one more year.

Sunday, the team announced that Danick Martel accepted his qualifying offer on a one-year contract, and that restricted free agents Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne signed one-year deals.

Restricted free agent goalie Anthony Stolarz has also accepted his qualifying offer of $761,250, according to a report from John Hoven. Stolarz, 24, played in just one game for the Phantoms in the 2017-18 season after undergoing surgery on a meniscus tear last summer. A second-round pick by the Flyers in the 2012 draft, Stolarz went 18-9 and posted a 2.92 goals against average with Lehigh Valley in 2016-17.

Though the team didn't include any salary details, Martel's deal is reportedly a two-way contract worth $715,000.

The 23-year-old Martel made his NHL debut last season, finishing with no points and six shots over four games. He scored a career-best 25 goals for Lehigh Valley.

With Leier, the Flyers avoided a possible arbitration hearing. According to CapFriendly, Leier's contract is a one-way deal for $720,000. Leier's hearing was scheduled for Aug. 3. The team also earlier avoided a hearing with Alex Lyon, their other player who filed for arbitration, signing the goalie to a two-year deal.

A fourth-round selection in 2012, Leier had one goal and four assists in 39 regular-season games with the Flyers as a rookie.

Goulbourne, who made his NHL debut on Jan. 6, appeared in nine regular-season contests, with 15 hits.

If Stolarz is indeed back in the fold, Robert Hagg would be the team's only remaining restricted free agent. 

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