As Giroux returns, two new faces of Flyers are thankful for his influence


When Claude Giroux was competing in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, Travis Konecny was only 13 years old and Carter Hart 11.

At the time, Giroux was just starting to blossom into a star and, eventually, an all-time great Flyer.

Now, almost 12 and a half years later, he's no longer in Philadelphia. Giroux is writing a new chapter of his career with the Senators after playing 1,000 games for the Flyers and serving as the team's captain for parts of 10 seasons.

The 34-year-old ranks second on the franchise's all-time leaderboards in games played (1,000), points (900) and assists (609), behind only Hall of Famer and Flyers icon Bob Clarke.

He'll return to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time as a visitor Saturday when the Flyers host Ottawa (1 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

"It's going to be pretty cool to see how the building reacts," Konecny said Wednesday. "I'm sure it'll be a nice warm welcome home for him. ... The fans were sad to see him go but they loved him here. It'll be pretty cool to play in that game and see him there."

Konecny and Hart are no longer youngsters coming up under the wing of Giroux. They're two of the faces to the Flyers' transition of life after Giroux.

At 25 years old, Konecny currently leads the Flyers with five goals and 15 points early into the 2022-23 season.

At 24 years old, Hart has been the team's most important player, entering Saturday with a 6-1-2 record, 2.09 goals-against average and .941 save percentage.

The Flyers hope those two are pillars to a contending club in the near future. Perhaps they'll be longtime Flyers with their names among the franchise's best like Giroux.

When it's all said and done, they'll remember their time as teammates with No. 28.

"It was huge," Konecny said of Giroux's guidance. "There was a number of guys that really brought me in and showed me the way, G definitely being one of the head guys in that. I always tell him, I credit a lot of my career so far to him. A lot of those seasons where I had success was from playing with G. Obviously I can't repay him for that but I'm always thankful for what he's done for me."

Konecny came into the NHL at 19 years old. He quickly learned of Giroux's relentless competitive nature.

"That's the thing, it didn't matter if he was taping his stick, he had to be faster than everyone else," Konecny said. "It was just constant with G."

More: Giroux sets the example for Farabee, tells him to break his records

Hart, who won his NHL debut at 20 years old and in Giroux's 12th year, saw that competitiveness in practice.

"Oh yeah, you'd hear it from him," Hart said Wednesday. "So you've got to give it back to him, too."

The netminder appreciated Giroux's drive to win at everything.

"That's why he's a leader — he wants to win," Hart said. "Night in and night out, he works hard. I know the young guys in Ottawa, they've got a young team, he's a good veteran guy to have around for them."

Giroux maybe had his competitiveness questioned a week ago when the Senators hosted the Flyers. Hart lost his stick and Giroux — inadvertently or not — kicked it back toward the goaltender. The sequence was captured on video and made the rounds on social media.

Friendly gesture from his former captain? Hart wasn't buying it.

"I don't know if you guys saw, in the third period, there was a clip where I lost my stick in the corner, he kind of kicks it back to me," Hart said. "I don't think he meant to do it, he's in stride. I texted him, I was like, 'I don't think you meant to do that, bud.' He's like, 'I'm just a nice guy.'"

Giroux scored a goal on Hart but the Flyers won, 2-1. If he's in net, Hart will look to keep Giroux off the board Saturday.

"Great guy, he was a great teammate," Hart said. "I loved playing with him.

"We wish him all the best in Ottawa except for when we play them."

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