6 Reasons Claude Giroux Should Be the New Face of the NHL

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2012

6 Reasons Claude Giroux Should Be the New Face of the NHL

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    There is little doubt that Claude Giroux is one of the most exciting and explosive players in the NHL.

    He has improved significantly in each of his four seasons with the Flyers and he is a player that head coach Peter Laviolette has touted for his talent and big-game ability.

    "He's the best player in the world," Laviolette told NBCSports.com.

    While the NHL is at the early stages of what could be a very nasty lockout, it will end at some point, and the NHL is going to need excellent leadership to bring angry fans back.

    When that happens, perhaps their best leader will be Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers.

    He may be in a position to be the lead dog when the game returns, and he would be an excellent spokesman for the game.

Rising Tide

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    Let's take a look at the record. Claude Giroux has gotten better in each his four seasons in the NHL.

    He played two games in the 2007-08 season, so we won't even count those games. He played 42 games the next season and he scored 27 points. Not enough to call him a star, but enough to let opponents know he was in the lineup.

    In the 2009-10 season, he scored 47 points during the regular season. However, when the Flyers got to the playoffs, Giroux scored 21 points in 23 games.

    In the 2010-11 season, Giroux came into his own. He scored 25 goals and 51 assists.

    Last year was another step up. He battled Evgeni Malkin for the scoring title for much of the year before Malkin pulled away. Giroux had 28 goals and 93 points to lead the Flyers.

    He is clearly an elite player at this point in his career.

Loved by Teammates

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    Claude Giroux's teammates love playing with him. They respect his remarkable ability and his tendency to rise to the occasion.

    In the video above, Giroux had scored a remarkable shootout goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs that helped secure a win over Toronto Maple Leafs. Teammates Ilya Bryzgalov and Scott Hartnell talked about the move and the type of player and person that Giroux is.

    He has the kind of easygoing personality and sense of humor that fans respond to and teammates love.

Setting the Tone

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    Claude Giroux does not cut corners. He plays the game with a physical edge, but he is not dirty. Then, he puts his offensive skills on display.

    In the video above, Giroux started Game 6 of the Flyers-Penguins playoff series by hitting Penguins captain Sidney Crosby with a clean body check that knocked him to the ice.

    Shortly after that hit in the opening seconds, Giroux scored the opening goal of the game at the 32-second mark. That's the way you want to see your superstar begin a key game.

Youth

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    Giroux is a already a superstar, but at the age of 24, he has many brilliant years ahead of him.

    He embraces his youth by playing a little pregame basketball with teammate Wayne Simmonds in the video above.

    He has youth and strength and doesn't have to constantly conserve his energy. He can go out and have fun and it won't impact his ability to play a game.

    When you have that kind of energy level, you can handle the responsibilities of being the new face of the NHL. He will be able to handle that role for years to come.

Sidney Crosby Injuries

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    Claude Giroux is an excellent player who should only get better.

    However, we are not saying he is the best player in the league, even if Laviolette has already given him that title (slide 1).

    When healthy, Sidney Crosby is a much better player in terms of numbers and all-around production. Steven Stamkos is also a more explosive goal scorer.

    However, you don't know that Crosby is going to stay healthy. He missed the better part of two seasons due to concussion-related problems.

    Crosby has been a face of the NHL and he will continue to be idolized by many fans, but he may not be the best "lead dog" if he can't stay healthy.

    Giroux has the leadership ability and popularity to take on that role.

Media Center

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    Love them or hate them, the Philadelphia Flyers are one of the most visible franchises in the NHL.

    If they go on the road, the Flyers have always been a big draw.

    They play in a large Eastern city that gets a lot of media coverage.

    That makes the Flyers one of the ideal teams to be the home for the future face of the game.

    It would make sense for the league that its face comes from a city like New York, Philadelphia or Boston. Perhaps you may want to include midwestern cities like Chicago and Detroit as well.

    With the Eastern cities, you get just a touch more passion.

    The Bruins and Rangers have many skilled players, including some who would approach Giroux's popularity and skill level.

    However, they don't have players who exceed his level.

    He needs to be the face of the league.