CHICAGO - Claude Giroux wasn't expecting to hear from Paul Holmgren the day before Christmas.

Everything that had been said about the Flyers' young forward was that he would not get a call to the NHL until there was room for him on one of the top three lines.

But then Scottie Upshall went down for 10 to 14 days with a knee injury and the phone rang in Grioux' Hearst, Ontario, home on Christmas Eve. It was the Flyers general manager; Giroux was being invited on the post-Christmas trip, first stop Chicago.

"It was a good Christmas present," Giroux said. "Hopefully, I get some ice time and I can show what I can do."

It has been a long time coming. Giroux was the talk of pre-training camp. The high-flying winger lit the lamp in junior hockey and was expected to make the Flyers out of camp. He had 106 points in 55 regular-season games and 51 points in 19 playoff games last season with Gatineau, of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

But things didn't go as planned, and Giroux was sent to the Phantoms. Andreas Nodl made the team and spent the first quarter of the season with the Flyers.

Nodl fit in, but was not scoring and was sent down, called back up, and then sent down again yesterday when Giroux came up.

"There has been a lot of talk lately that he has been playing really well, and he deserved a chance to get in and play," coach John Stevens said. "We think that, going on the road, he gives us a little more skill in our lineup and hopefully gives us some secondary scoring."

Giroux is happy to have the chance to redeem himself after his poor performance in camp.

"I was a little disappointed with myself," Giroux said. "I really didn't play well and I didn't deserve to be on this team.

"I learned a lot with the Phantoms and I got a lot of ice time and I think I'm a better hockey player than I was at the start of the season. I was thinking about [getting the call] because that was my dream playing in the NHL and I was hoping for a chance. It was a nice surprise."

How long he stays will depend on how he does and how long the Flyers need him. Danny Briere remains out with a groin tear, and Upshall won't be back before next week.

Giroux doesn't want to put pressure on himself.

"I'm trying not to think about that," he said. "I'm trying to control what I can, have fun, play hard and hopefully play well. I can't pressure myself. I have to just go out there and have fun," he said.

Holiday travel

Claude Giroux could have used a pregame skate to get the feel of being up, but the Flyers were caught up in some difficult Chicago weather and traffic problems.

The team charter was scheduled to land at Midway International Airport, but when a plane skidded off the runway, the Flyers were diverted to O'Hare.

Once the team landed, the chartered buses and equipment trucks had to be rerouted, and by the time they got to the team's downtown hotel, it was too late to skate.

"We didn't have a chance to skate, because we got stuck in the air," Stevens said. "We got out of Philly no problem, but then one of the planes at Midway slid off the end of the runway and the runway got shut down and we hovered for an hour-and-a-half. We didn't get to the hotel till noon, Chicago time."

Parent left home

Ryan Parent is not on the road trip, but will more than likely be activated off the long-term injury list today when the holiday ban on player movement is lifted.

According to Paul Holmgren, Parent, who had shoulder surgery, will be eligible to be sent to the Phantoms tomorrow. He will be assigned to the team, but not on a conditioning assignment.

"We need to get him playing," Holmgren said.

Because Parent has a two-way contract, he wil not need to be placed on waivers to be sent down, and there is no timetable for bringing him up. *