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Cup or no Cup, it’s time to appreciate Flyers forward Claude Giroux’s sustained greatness

Since debuting for the Flyers in 2007-08, Giroux has been both consistently great and criminally underappreciated. A potential Hall of Famer, he deserves better than that Sam Carchidi writes.

Flyers center Claude Giroux is building a Hockey Hall of Fame resume as he approaches 900 career points and still a lot left in the tank.
Flyers center Claude Giroux is building a Hockey Hall of Fame resume as he approaches 900 career points and still a lot left in the tank.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Claude Giroux may be playing the final few months of his epic Flyers career.

The fact he may not be here much longer has nothing to do with his production, of course, because the soon-to-be 34-year-old forward is showing no signs of slowing down.

It has everything to do with the fact that, if the Flyers are on the playoff bubble, or worse, general manager Chuck Fletcher could probably get a big haul if he dealt the team’s captain — and someone who can become an unrestricted free agent in July — by the March 21 trade deadline.

» READ MORE: Flyers beat Kraken 3-2 as Claude Giroux passes Bill Barber into second in career points.

So it’s time to appreciate just what Giroux has done since joining the Flyers in 2007-08. He is among the Flyers’ career leaders in most offensive categories, and in Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime win in Seattle, he surpassed Hall of Famer Bill Barber and became the team’s No. 2 all-time scorer with 884 points.

“Bill Barber is obviously a legend in Philly for everything he’s done for the city,” Giroux said, mindful that the left winger played a big part in the Flyers’ Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975. “And just to be in the same thought with him, it’s a great honor.”

Odd relationship

Despite his staggering numbers, Giroux has had a strange relationship with fans.

Some love him because of his relentless style and his remarkable production, especially on the power play, where he has more points (308) than any NHL player since 2010-11.

Some point that the Flyers have won just one playoff series since he became captain at age 25 in 2013.

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It’s reminiscent of how fans treated Phillies legend Mike Schmidt. Schmidt, despite his greatness at the plate and in the field, wasn’t appreciated for a lot of years. Boos weren’t uncommon. Maybe it was because of all his strikeouts, or maybe fans thought he was loafing because of the effortless way he carried himself.

I could never understand the booing of Schmidt, who wasn’t fully appreciated until late in his career, when it became obvious he was a sure-fire Hall of Famer — and probably the best third baseman in MLB history.

And I cannot understand the nastiness directed at Giroux on Twitter. Throughout his career, no Flyer has played with more passion than No. 28.

Giroux, of course, will one day be in the Flyers’ Hall of Fame. And you could argue he should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

After setting up James van Riemsdyk’s power-play goal for his 600th career assist in the first period of Wednesday’s game, Giroux has 26 points (11 goals, 15 assists) in 30 games this season, a pace for 30 goals (second-best in his career) and 71 points.

That would give him 303 goals and 929 points.

Let’s assume he plays four seasons beyond this one and averages a modest 23 goals and 55 points per year. That would give him 395 goals and 1,149 career points. (If he did that all for the Flyers, he would approach Bobby Clarke’s franchise record for career points at 1,210.)

Eye-opening numbers

It would be more goals and points than dozens of Hall-of-Fame forwards, including Martin St. Louis, Eric Lindros (who had a much shorter career), Bernie Federko, Jacques Lemaire, Henri Richard, Bernie Geoffrion, Andy Bathgate, and countless others.

It would also give him more points than Hall of Famers such as Darryl Sittler, Joe Mullen, Frank Mahovlich, Mike Bossy, Rod Gilbert, and Barber. Among Hall-of-Fame-eligible forwards to score 1,149 career points, only six — Pierre Turgeon, Jeremy Roenick, Bernie Nicholls, Vincent Damphousse, Rod Brind’Amour, and Daniel Alfredsson — are not enshrined in Toronto.

Yes, those players scored more goals — in some instances, a lot more goals — but it’s still interesting to see where Giroux could rank.

From here, if he has four more strong years as outlined above, he should go into the Hall, regardless of whether or not he wins a Cup for the Flyers or another team.

The Hall likes to reward outstanding players who have played on Cup winners, but Giroux, also one of the league’s best in faceoffs over the years, shouldn’t be penalized because the Flyers didn’t surround him with enough talent.

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