The ceremony honoring Claude Giroux for reaching 1,000 NHL games played will be an emotional one. Flyers players will wear Giroux jerseys for warmups, gifts will be given, and the highlights will be plentiful. There will also be grilled cheese sandwiches — his favorite — available for purchase all over Wells Fargo Center.
Then the puck will drop on the game against the Predators and reality will set in.
Four days after Giroux hears possibly the loudest cheers in his career it will be 2022 NHL trade deadline day. Four days after the Claude Giroux! chants end he could very likely be wearing another team’s jersey for the rest of the season.
Will he stay or go?
There is the chance, however, that the 34-year-old Giroux decides against waiving his no-movement clause to stay in Philadelphia. Those odds seem slim as the Flyers, while they want to “aggressively retool,” don’t appear to be positioning themselves as Stanley Cup contenders in the very-near future. With his contract expiring this summer, a tough decision needs to be made and made very soon.
When Giroux signed his eight-year, $66.2 million extension on July 4, 2013, he probably didn’t envision playing for six different head coaches over the duration and experiencing three First Round exits, a Second Round loss in a bubble environment in Toronto, and four playoff-less springs. Championships were the vision, but with another season nearly complete without the postseason in sight for the Flyers, the captain could choose to chase a Cup elsewhere.
“I didn’t think I’d be put in the position to make a decision. It’s been probably the worst year since I’m here,” Giroux said on Sunday. “It’s not in a position that I want to be in. Obviously, there’s still some meetings and some things to talk about with the management and see what the game plan is not just for this year but for the future.”
[NHL Trade Deadline Primer: Finding the right spot for Giroux to chase the Cup]
Despite a career-altering decision hanging over him, Giroux has still had a solid season. He’s second on the Flyers in scoring with 18 goals and 42 points. There will be plenty of suitors looking to bolster their offensive depth ahead of the playoffs, and you can bet general manager Chuck Fletcher’s phone has been busy.
If Giroux does decide to move on, he’ll have a big contingent of fans and former teammates rooting for him to win his first Cup, much like Ray Bourque experienced after his 2000 trade from Boston to Colorado.
“We’d be happy for him,” said Flyers forward Sean Couturier. “Especially me. I’ve been around him since I started my career. I have learned so much from him and the time and the effort he’s putting into this organization. You just wish him all the best, whether it’s here or somewhere else. He’s a guy that definitely deserves to win at one point in his career. Wherever it is, I’ll be happy for him.”
Everything seems to leaning towards a trade happening and Giroux chasing a title elsewhere, which would make Thursday night’s ceremony part-celebration, part-farewell party.
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.