Tag: Player Media Tour

Boston Bruins v Philadelphia Flyers - Game One

Old-school Giroux keeps his distance from opponents

1 Comment

When NHL players are signed up for the Player Media Tour, it’s understood that they’ll be shuffled around between EA Sports for video games, NBC for promotional shoots, the NHL store in New York City, and anything else the league can dream up over the two day press event. Throughout their time in the greater New York City area, the players end up spending quite a bit of time with some of their fiercest rivals over the course of the season. It used to be taboo for opponents to openly fraternize outside of the rink—but times have changed. Different players from different teams all over the league see each other at international tournaments, charity events, and even league events like the Player Media Tour.

Not everyone is OK with the changes.

Philadelphia Flyers star Claude Giroux is one of the guys who is making the rounds this week. Unlike most guys who are excited about the opportunity to meet some of the various stars from around the league, Giroux would rather keep the relationships professional. Giroux talked to Adam Kimelman at NHL.com about the opportunity to hang out with some opponents:

“It’s kind of cool, but at the same time I play against them and don’t really like all of them. I guess it’s part of the game, you have to go with it. I think when you’re on the ice you’re not there to make friends.”

The former first round pick had a breakout season last year as he put up 25 goals and 76 points for the Flyers. His maturation – as well as the maturation of fellow Media Tour attendee James van Riemsdyk – allowed Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren to move productive forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter over the offseason. He’ll be expected to carry the load at the center position with Daniel Briere if the Flyers want an encore of their 2010 Stanley Cup Final appearance.

This should be a fun season to watch Giroux’s progression. Throughout his entire career, he’s been able to answer questions about his size and/or youth by producing at every level. He scored 100+ three separate times for Gatineau in the QMJHL—in the NHL he played well enough for the Flyers to experiment with Carter and Briere on the wing. He’s always thrived no matter what the challenge has been.

This season, he’ll look to prove that he can produce while facing the best defensemen the opposition can throw at him. No longer does he have the likes of Carter and Richards to take the tough minutes. This season, opposition coaches will look to get the match-ups they want by putting their best defensemen against Giroux’s line on a nightly basis.

He’s consistently proven that he’s up for any challenge—but this will be the biggest challenge of his career.

From a fan’s point of view, it’s respectable to hear that a player takes the rivalries as seriously as the paying customers. These guys spend nine months per season desperately striving for the same goal—not everyone can just shut it off at the end of the season. Giroux’s comments today show that he’s the type of player that takes the bitter rivalries on the ice seriously.

What about you? Are you OK with players from different team befriending one another in the offseason? Or do you wish things would go back to how they used to be when opponents were enemies 12 months per year? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Sidney Crosby expands on recovery process: ‘I can’t wait to just get back out there’

Sidney Crosby

While Sidney Crosby’s big press conference took place on Wednesday, Crosby spoke a little bit more about what he’s been going through during the 2011 Player Media Tour today.

Dan Rosen described Crosby’s mood as generally informal on Thursday, as Crosby “essentially kicked up his heels” while he spent the day discussing hockey. One can imagine that the Pittsburgh Penguins star probably felt a sense of relief after stemming some – but probably not all – of the tide of speculation about his struggles with post-concussion syndrome.

To little surprise, Crosby admits that he’s been chomping at the bit to return to NHL action since he took that second hit on January 5, which makes the process that much more draining. That being said, he reiterated yesterday’s message that such a desire won’t force him to return before the time is right.

“I can’t wait just to get back out there,” Crosby said Thursday from the Prudential Center, where he spent his portion of the Player Media Tour. “I know when that time comes I’m going to be confident and ready for that. I don’t think there is going to be any doubt in my mind about whether I’m going to be able to do that. That’s why it’s important to make sure when I do come back that everything is right.”

Some might have been frustrated that Crosby didn’t break his silence earlier, but the high-profile center’s reasoning for keeping quiet was sound. The fuzzy nature of concussions means that updates aren’t always very concrete or consistent.

“It’s nice just to let everyone know that it’s not always consistent, that there are good days and bad days throughout the healing process,” Crosby said. “It’s good to educate and have people realize the way it’s been. If anything, things are progressing well and I’m excited to get back on the ice.”

Asked why he didn’t talk earlier this offseason about his recovery, Crosby said he couldn’t because “there would have been a different story on most days.”

“It wasn’t that I didn’t want to say anything; it was making sure what I was saying was completely right,” he continued. “With this injury, it’s not always clear cut. There is a lot of unknown. There are good days and after those good days I could say everything is great. Then there are bad days and everything is not so great. It’s just a matter of waiting until things change a bit.”

While there is still a lot that is unknown about head injuries, there are also examples of NHL players who dealt with similar issues. Some are cautionary tales, such as the (seemingly) hasty returns of Eric Lindros and Marc Savard, which many believe contributed to their premature retirements and/or on-ice declines. That being said, Crosby could look to his frequent Team Canada linemate Patrice Bergeron as an example that these situations aren’t always dead ends, either.

“Bergie is a guy that I played with and he’s someone who came back this year and won the Cup after going through a pretty tough ordeal with his concussion,” Crosby said. “That’s pretty encouraging to me to see someone who has gone through something very similar. He’s out there playing the exact same way. He won the Stanley Cup and things are much, much better. That’s encouraging.”

Bergeron’s uneven path also provides evidence that it’s not always a straightforward process, either. We’ll just have to wait and see how the process goes, but it seems like there are signs of optimism that Crosby will be back on the ice at some point – let’s just hope that optimism is met with the proper amount of caution. Every indication is that should be the case.

John Tavares says that he’d love to be the Islanders’ next captain

New York Islanders Draft Party

There are a handful of NHL teams who are without a captain, including the St. Louis Blues and New Jersey Devils. To some fans, that might be a cause for concern, while others wonder if the role is actually a little overrated.

Doug Weight’s retirement leaves the New York Islanders without a symbolic leader, which could make sense if the team backs up the hopeful narrative that the franchise will finally turning things around in 2011-12. If the team wants to take the easy way out, they could always play pin the tail on the nearest available valuable veteran and just hand the “C” to Mark Streit. After all, the offensive defenseman was the team’s biggest star before his season-ending injury last summer.

Then again, teams are just as likely to hand the captain’s role to a young face of their franchise. If that trend continues with the Islanders, then they might turn to John Tavares – the first pick of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and their most recognizable offensive talent.

Tavares expressed a keen interest in that role while making the rounds at today’s Players Media Tour.

“I’d love to be (captain),” Tavares told NHL.com Thursday morning. “I definitely understand maybe I am still too young and just need to worry about the game, but if it was presented to me, it definitely would be something I would talk about and make sure it’s the right decision for the group and for myself as well. I’d love to be a leader of this team.

“Mark Streit and Kyle are great guys and are going to be highly recommended, for sure. But I still feel I’ll be a big leader no matter what, and I’ll still have a lot of responsibility in a lot of ways. Whatever way it goes, it’s going to be a guy that definitely deserves it and will do a great job at it. If I get the opportunity, it would be a huge honor.”

Much like the Devils’ situation with Zach Parise, the Islanders might be a bit apprehensive to hand Tavares the captaincy while he’s in a contract year. Of course, he’ll only be a restricted free agent in 2012 and the team should have more than enough cap space to keep him around for the foreseeable future, so that might be a moot point.

Whether he wears a “C” on his shoulder or not, Tavares will be a leader for the Islanders. Some think he might be among the NHL’s scoring leaders as well, but we’ll have to see if he takes the next step in his development (he went from 24 goals and 54 points in 2009-10 to 29 goals and 67 points in 10-11) in his third season.

For Islanders fans reading this post, would you rather see Tavares, Streit, Kyle Okposo or someone else become the captain next season? Let us know in the comments.