Jeremy Roenick

Is it important for Claude Giroux to finish his career with Flyers?

Is it important for Claude Giroux to finish his career with Flyers?

Claude Giroux has made it known he wants to plays into his 40s.

He could even become the franchise’s all-time leading scorer.

However, does the longest-tenured captain next to Bobby Clarke see himself as a lifelong Flyer?

Recently, Giroux sat down with NBC’s Jeremy Roenick for a 1-on-1 interview that explored a number of topics, including some of those grade-school challenges you might ask a sibling on a long car ride. 

For example, Roenick pondered, “Would you be unable to chew with your mouth closed for the rest of your life or be unable to breathe through your nose?”

However, J.R. also explored Giroux’s long-term outlook and where his career might lead.

Roenick: “Ten years from now, where do you want Claude Giroux’s life to be? How do you want people to remember you when you’re done with this game and you’re … where’s Claude Giroux in 10 years?”

Giroux: “In 10 years? Uh, hopefully playing my last year.”

Roenick: “Good.”

Giroux: “You know, I understand it’s not easy, not a lot of players get a chance to play when they’re 40. But if you put the time in I think you can do it and after that, I don’t know. We’ll see … we’ll see where it takes me. I know I’ve been in Philly for a long time now, so … I can see staying there, but you know it’s … I've got other things to focus on.”

Other things to focus on? 

Giroux didn’t elaborate on that last point. We know he’ll become a father for the first time in August, and as players enter the latter stages of their careers, family life certainly takes priority. However, you would also think for Giroux, who began his career in 2008, and hasn’t advanced in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2012, that the desire to bring Philadelphia its first Stanley Cup championship since 1975 would be a way to cement his Flyers legacy.

Interestingly, Roenick followed up with a question that Giroux could have answered accordingly.

Roenick: "And how important is it for you to stay in Philly and finish off what you started there?"

Giroux: “Well, you know, I got lucky enough to have a chance to play in the NHL with Philly and it’s an intense, I mean, it’s an intense city. They love their sports. You play bad, they’re gonna let you know. You play good, they’ll let you know. You’re not gonna go home one night and think I wonder how they feel. You know how they feel, so it’s good.”

Huh? A very noncommittal answer to which, once again, Giroux could have reaffirmed his desire to bring the city a championship. 

How does the intensity of playing in a passionate sports town figure into that equation?

Perhaps, Giroux is looking beyond the 2021-22 season, the final year of his current eight-year contract, when he’ll be 34, having played 14 seasons in orange and black. At that time, he will have earned the right to test free agency if that’s what he elects to do.  

Then again, if Chuck Fletcher doesn’t make significant upgrades over the summer, Giroux might be the final piece to some other team’s championship puzzle.

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Jeremy Roenick defends Dave Hakstol, questions players' commitment

Jeremy Roenick defends Dave Hakstol, questions players' commitment

A popular topic of discussion during Dave Hakstol's tenure with the Flyers has been the head coach's outward intensity or lack of it.

Why that's even a conversation is puzzling.

Hakstol has shown a fire on the bench at times but often expresses stoicism.

Emotion is good and all, but it should have purpose. Hakstol shouldn't yell just to yell or flip a table to simply say, hey, look, everyone … I'm angry!

But now might be a time for a little increased emotion.

He needs the Flyers to play for him. They should play for him. After all, his job is on the line — and appears in serious jeopardy — after one job was already lost with Monday's firing of general manager Ron Hextall.

If there's ever a time to hammer home a point, it's now for Hakstol.

"Listen, this team can win hockey games, they know how to win, they know what kind of effort it takes to win in this league, they've shown they can do it," former Flyers center and current NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick said on NBC Sports Philadelphia's Tuesday edition of Philly Sports Talk.

"When you don't do it consistently, it is a lack of preparation, it is a lack of interest and that's all on the players. If I'm Dave Hakstol, he understands that he is probably the next one to go and I would expect that leash to be tightened and his mouth to be opening up a little bit more verbally in making sure his players are getting his message."

Well put. 

It should be expected at this point, but reinforcing the urgency can't hurt. There's no denying that the Flyers have too much talent to be in last place of the Metropolitan Division after two months of the season.

Roenick believes a big chunk of the accountability falls on the players.

"I think Dave's done a great job with what he's been given, I think he's been a very good bench coach, now it's just up to the players to do the job — that's what it comes down to," Roenick said. "If they do that, they'll win hockey games. If not, Dave could be the next one to go. I would not like to see it because I like Dave Hakstol, I think he's a very good coach."

Hakstol will have to convince a new general manager. 

Let's see if the players help his cause.

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Claude Giroux responds to Jeremy Roenick's offseason criticism

Claude Giroux responds to Jeremy Roenick's offseason criticism

VOORHEES, N.J. — Former Flyer Jeremy Roenick provided some interesting insight into the psychology of Claude Giroux this summer.

On CSN's July 14 edition of Philly Sports Talk, Roenick said, "The reason why Claude Giroux doesn't get success is [because] he lets everything get into his mind and he looks for other things to blame it on.”

What those “other things” are Roenick didn’t elaborate, but Giroux has been resilient in his refusal to use injuries as an excuse. Roenick’s assessment came back in July at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championships in Lake Tahoe, and on Wednesday, Giroux agreed completely that he experiences this mental overload.

“Yeah, I did [agree],” Giroux said, “and I don’t think there was anything negative about that. It was just about me proving who I am. He’s been in that position before and he knows how it feels. He said what I think.

"I’m actually close with Jeremy. Jeremy’s a guy that when he played, he had a chip on his shoulder. He wanted to prove every game that he was better than everybody else. It’s about having that mentality.”

A mentality no one questioned during Giroux’s ascension as one of the best players in the world. A talent that has earned him four All-Star Game appearances and helped him finish top five in voting for the Hart Trophy award as the league's MVP in 2011-12.

Since putting up 28 goals and 86 points in 2013-14, Giroux has seen his offensive production decline in each of the past three years, as he finished with just 14 goals and 58 points this past season.

Roenick referred to Giroux’s 2016-17 season as “a bad-luck situation,” one that can be remedied if he blocks out distractions.

“Put it back together,” Roenick said in July. “Show everybody why you're one of the best competitors in the game and get back up into that top-scoring aspect. And don't worry about slumps and don't worry about what people think of you, just be Claude Giroux. And if he does that, this team is going to prosper."

When I spoke to Giroux on Wednesday for the first time regarding his offseason and Roenick’s comments, I could sense some tension, which led to this awkward exchange …

Me: Do you look at this season as proving some of the doubters and critics wrong that your game is in decline?

Giroux: “Yeah, I read your stuff, so it's kind of motivation.” 

My only mention of Giroux this summer was part of an “End-to-End” column in which the CSNPhilly staff takes a topic and breaks it down. 

Me: “What did I say exactly?” 

Giroux: “Not positive, that’s for sure. But that’s how the business is and for me, it's to prove what kind of player I am and what I can do. The first thing I look at is that our team is looking very good right now. When the team goes well, individually, it’s a lot easier. You can see the mentality of guys coming to camp right now. It’s a different feel right now. I think guys just want more.”

Giroux’s response was a considerably different tone from the last time the media spoke with the captain, which came during the Flyers' cleanout day in April.

"I'm probably the toughest person to judge myself,” Giroux said then. "I'm really hard on myself. What you guys write and say, it doesn't really bother me."

Clearly what bothers Giroux mentally seems to be a little tougher to analyze than what he has endured physically.

A year ago, Giroux was overcoming hip/abdominal surgery and he wasn’t able to prepare for the regular season like he normally would have, as he joined Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey tournament.

“Every summer is about finding new ways to get better,” Giroux said Wednesday of his offseason training in his native Ottawa. “This summer, I didn’t have to rehab all summer, so I actually had a chance to work out and do what I used to do.

"It was more getting back to explosive stuff, getting stronger, getting faster. I think it’s pretty much the same story for every player — find ways to get better. That’s what we did all summer.”

As he approaches his 30th birthday — he'll turn 30 on Jan. 12 — it’s almost inconceivable to think Giroux and the Flyers haven’t advanced in the playoffs since beating the Penguins in 2012 when the captain was just 24 years old. Those are prime years of a career you can’t get back. Some will say those are wasted years, while others believe you’re wasting time just thinking about it in those terms.

With training camp officially beginning next Friday, Giroux offered up one piece of self-advice Wednesday that will likely serve him best — not only for this season but for the rest of his career.

"It's about going out there and playing hockey," Giroux said. "That's what I know to do best is play hockey. Thinking about other things is not going to change anything how I play on the ice."