Back in December 2018, Scott Hartnell was honored at the Wells Fargo Center. The beloved former Flyer had announced his retirement from the NHL and was setting out on the next phase of his life.
On that Thursday night, Hartnell had his little boy Wesley with him and the two snuck into Claude Giroux's postgame interview.
Hartnell and Giroux were together again, smiling and laughing. In Hartnell's case, the enjoyment of fatherhood had recently begun.
Hartnell has watched Giroux transform from a 20-year-old kid into an NHL star, the 32-year-old leader of the Flyers and now a father himself.
“He’s kind of grown up under our eyes I guess you can say,” Hartnell said Monday on NBC Sports Philadelphia's Flyers Talk podcast.
Giroux and his wife Ryanne welcomed their baby boy Gavin into the world last August. Hartnell and his wife Katie are two weeks from being due with their second child.
The former teammates chatted over FaceTime recently during the NHL pause.
Two dads catching up.
teamwork makes the dream work😁 pic.twitter.com/iqtoqDGqwE— Ryanne Giroux (@ryannegiroux) April 20, 2020
"Just to check in and see how life was up in Ottawa," Hartnell, now an NHL analyst, said. "You could just see talking about his son Gavin and just the light that little man brings to him. Kind of comparing stories because I was just through that maybe eight months ago with how old my son was.
"It’s amazing, when you’re a father, your whole perspective of life changes. It’s all about that little man and your family and just how much joy that gives.
"It’s cool to see him kind of go from a punk little kid to a father and being a good leader for everyone in that dressing room — and for the city of Philadelphia, people look up to him.”
Giroux is the longest-tenured active athlete in the city, going back to 2008, and has been the Flyers' captain since January 2013.
The 2019-20 club was looking like one of his better shots at another run for the Cup.
"Since I was traded, I don't even know now, five, six years ago, this was probably the team that has played the best and probably that gave the players hope, but even the fans hope," Hartnell said. "I hear now that I'm living here in the area that everyone was jacked up, getting ready for the playoffs, how great they are — they lose a game, they come back and they win two, three in a row — everything was trending upwards."
Time will tell if Giroux and the Flyers get a chance to compete in playoff hockey this season. For now, the captain gets more time to be a dad — and Hartnell will enjoy hearing about it.
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