No. 5 Claude Giroux
Claude Giroux was snubbed. Again. With hockey in a deep freeze, thanks to the NHL's second labor stoppage in 8 years, the Flyers' star - whom many consider to be Philadelphia's most electrifying athlete - dropped to fifth place in the Daily News' annual Sportsperson of the Year balloting.
Claude Giroux was snubbed. Again.
With hockey in a deep freeze, thanks to the NHL's second labor stoppage in 8 years, the Flyers' star - whom many consider to be Philadelphia's most electrifying athlete - dropped to fifth place in the Daily News' annual Sportsperson of the Year balloting.
In other words, Giroux finished further back in his own city among sports writers than he did (fourth) in Hart Trophy voting last season for hockey's Most Valuable Player award.
Full disclosure: This Flyers beat writer voted for Giroux as No. 1 on his ballot, ahead of Mike Trout, Doug Collins, Carlos Ruiz and Bill O'Brien.
Yes, Trout is more than deserving as the Daily News' Sportsperson of the Year. He put together an unbelievable rookie season for the Angels - and the fact he was even in the American League MVP discussion in a year in which there was a Triple Crown winner speaks volumes. Still, as much as the Millville, N.J., native likes to support Philly teams, he doesn't scream "Philly" to me. But I get it.
Our No. 2 finisher this season, Bill O'Brien, strung together nothing short of a miraculous campaign in Happy Valley under unprecedented circumstances. Perhaps this Penn State grad should have placed O'Brien higher on his ballot.
Doug Collins has made the Sixers relevant for the first time in a decade. Ruiz is an unheralded centerpiece on a Phillies team who helped erase a nearly 3-decade title drought. Neither Ruiz nor Collins means to his teams, though, what Giroux does to the Flyers.
Whether it's because of the NHL's agonizing 15-week lockout or because of the way the Flyers fizzled out of the playoffs in the second round, it may be easy to forget exactly the way Giroux had this town buzzing in April.
Giroux, 24, collected 28 goals and 65 assists for 93 points to notch the single-best regular season by any Flyer since 1998-99, when Eric Lindros also netted 93. As consistent and heady as he was in the regular season, he was even better in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Who can forget the first shift of Game 6 at the Wells Fargo Center against Pittsburgh? Giroux drilled Penguins captain Sidney Crosby with a thundering shoulder, scooped up a pass in the neutral zone and roasted Marc-Andre Fleury with a rising, top-shelf wrister.
Giroux posted 17 points in 10 playoff games, before the Flyers conked out like a narcoleptic on a bus in the second round against New Jersey. He remained the playoffs' leading scorer nearly until the Stanley Cup finals - and that included five games against the Devils in which he played with fractured wrists.
Giroux, who is back in Canada finishing off a rehab stint after suffering a neck injury while playing with Danny Briere in Germany, didn't have a bad year. He was the cover athlete of EA Sports' "NHL 13" video game. He also won the John Wanamaker Athletic Award, from the Philadelphia Sports Congress, as the city's athlete of the year.
With two bum wrists, which required offseason surgery, Giroux could not will the Flyers to their first Stanley Cup in 37 years. Now that he is a bona fide superstar - with video game and magazine covers to prove it - perhaps pushing the Flyers closer next time, if there ever is a season, will change his fortune on these ballots.