Trade Giroux? The captain's in charge and ‘Claude's decision' is nearing


VOORHEES, N.J. — As the Flyers' 2021-22 season has torpedoed, the inevitable has occurred: Claude Giroux trade talk.

That is the looming danger when a decision is made by one or both parties to play out a contract year. The Flyers' pressure to rebound this season and Giroux's future were always destined to go hand in hand.

And here we are.

The Flyers find themselves on the longest losing streak in franchise history, dropped 10 or more games in a row twice before the halfway mark and are in last place of the Metropolitan Division at 13-22-8.

Giroux, an all-time great Flyer climbing the ladder of franchise icons, turned 34 years old in January and is on the final year of an eight-year, $66.2 million deal. His contract has a full no-move clause. He leads the team in points (34) and is tied for the team lead in goals (15). He has genuinely gotten better with age.

"He’s our captain, he’s been our best player this year," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Wednesday at his midseason press conference. "Nobody cares more about the Flyers than he does. I think we have to recognize what we’re dealing with here, he’s a franchise icon, his jersey’s going to be in the rafters. To me, he’s a Hall of Fame player."

Is there another chapter elsewhere for Giroux? And are the Flyers in for a hefty enough retool to part ways with their captain?

The club has won only one playoff series in the past nine seasons and is on path to miss the postseason in consecutive years for the first time since the 1992-93 and 1993-94 campaigns.

Giroux, the city's longest-tenured active athlete going back to February 2008, is a driven competitor. He was "pretty pissed off" at the Flyers' position last season after the team missed the playoffs then.

In many ways, goodbyes or not will be up to him. The NHL trade deadline is March 21. He'll have the time between now and then — a little less than two months — to mull over the big picture.

His future and the Flyers' future.

"Claude has a no-move trade in his contract. Ultimately, that’ll be his decision," Fletcher said of Giroux potentially waiving his no-move clause. "We’re at the halfway point, we’re two months to the trade deadline. I guess the best way to put it is we’ll continue to have conversations and ultimately a decision will have to be made one way or the other. It’ll be Claude’s decision.

"I spoke with Pat Brisson (Giroux's agent) yesterday, we speak two to three times a month generally. We have a few other clients of his on our roster, so I have a very good relationship with Pat and I think a great relationship with G.

"I think the best way to put it, first of all, I think Bob Clarke is probably the best player in franchise history. Once we get beyond Bob Clarke, there’s been some great players: Billy Barber, Bernie Parent, [Eric] Lindros, Simon Gagne, Brian Propp, you could go on and on. I think Claude is certainly right in that group. Eric Desjardins, I shouldn’t forget him. He’s right in that group, he’s one of the best Flyers to ever play."

Being a Flyer matters to Giroux. He has expressed the desire to stay in one place for his entire career.

"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 last season. "This organization has a great reputation. Since I've been here, they've treated me great. If I can, that would be great."

But if they part ways, the Flyers would want to receive something in return for a player the caliber of Giroux. A trade return would help exponentially for the Flyers' chances of digging out of their predicament. Fletcher could also do right by Giroux in sending him to a contender, giving him a chance to win this season before he hits the free-agent market.

Giroux is on path to play his 1,000th career game four days before the trade deadline.

The captain is in charge here. And he's inching closer to the crossroad.

More: As fans lose more patience, Flyers want to 'aggressively retool,' not rebuild

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