Flyers' pressure to win and Giroux's unfinished business go hand in hand


Chuck Fletcher called Claude Giroux a "dogged competitor."

Sean Couturier, a nothing-comes-easy-against-me type of player, deemed Giroux "one of the most competitive human beings out there."

When it comes to the captain's competitiveness, Travis Konecny said "it can be something as little as an arm wrestle and it drives him nuts to lose."

Next season will be the final year of Giroux's eight-year, $66.2 million contract and you better believe he wants to do something with it, especially after the Flyers finished this regular season as one of the NHL's biggest disappointments.

"Our leaders played hard this year," Fletcher said following the season. "If you look at the last couple months, nobody played better than Claude Giroux."

There's no underselling the magnitude of the 2021-22 season for the Flyers and Giroux. The club has vowed it can prove this season was a brief detour in its path toward contending again. After falling well short of expectations by missing the playoffs and yielding the most goals in hockey, the organization believes it'll rebound next season as the league returns to normal.

As Giroux enters the final season of his deal, his legacy in Philadelphia will continue to be shaped ahead of an offseason in which he and Couturier can become unrestricted free agents. Giroux is the city's longest-tenured active athlete, going back to 2008 before the Phillies won the World Series that fall. The 33-year-old is climbing the ladder of Flyers icons. With 943 games played in orange and black, Giroux is second on the franchise's all-time list, behind only Bob Clarke (1,144). With 858 career points, he's only 26 away from passing Bill Barber (883) for second in Flyers history, with Clarke leading the way (1,210).

Being a Flyer and staying in Philadelphia matter to him.

"When you've got a chance to play with one organization your whole career, it's something to be proud of," Giroux said on April 26, a day after he moved into third on the club's all-time scoring list. "This organization has a great reputation. Since I've been here, they've treated me great. If I can, that would be great.

"I think in life, you try to put goals out there even if they're hard to achieve. Bobby Clarke had an amazing career, Hall of Famer — that's a lot of points to get there."

Giroux, the driven, hate-to-lose competitor, has some things to chase in Philadelphia, winning being the most notable of them all. The Flyers haven't done a ton of that since the jam days of Peter Laviolette. Over the last nine seasons, they've missed the playoffs five times and have gone past the first round only once. The lone playoff series victory in that span came last season when the Flyers ended up falling one win shy of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, the Flyers then took a big step backward this season. So there's also no underselling the importance of this offseason for Fletcher and company, leading into Giroux's final year of his contract, with the pressure to win and the clock ticking.

"We definitely talk about pretty much everything, I say my opinions, I try to be honest in what I think can make this team better," Giroux said earlier this month at his end-of-the-season press conference. "I want to win, I'm pretty pissed off at the position we're in right now, so we're going to talk about it, see what he has to say, I'll say a few things and we'll see."

For the Flyers to address their needs this offseason in a flat-cap world, the trade market might be their best avenue. It could result in a mini or major shakeup of the roster because in order to add significant talent and fill holes via trade, a team must utilize assets and subtract. Giroux is not a candidate to be moved, possibly the most unlikely on the roster.

Apparently, some Senators fan have taken to the Twittersphere and online message boards with their desire for Ottawa to acquire Giroux. The idea is a far-fetched one for a multitude of reasons.

Giroux, the face of the Flyers and one of the team's most productive players this season, has a full no-movement clause. As we noted above, Giroux, who has gotten better with age over the last four seasons, has all sorts of motivation in Philadelphia as he enters next season on the final year of his contract.

And for the Flyers, even the thought of moving Giroux this offseason would go pretty much completely against their plans of aiming to contend again in 2021-22. Just imagine the message it would send to the roster? Not exactly inspiring the core that has played with Giroux for a long time or the youngsters that look up to him.

It's a big season for the Flyers and Giroux will be right in the middle of it, doing what he can to push it forward.

We'll see where it goes.

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