Claude Giroux: Is Captaincy Weighing on Slumping Flyers Star?

Michael PizzutilloCorrespondent IIIFebruary 14, 2013

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 19: Claude Giroux #28 of the Philadelphia Flyers waits to take the ice against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the home opener at Wells Fargo Center on January 19, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Claude Giroux understands being the captain of the Philadelphia Flyers comes with great responsibility, but is the pressure weighing him down?

Through his first 14 games of the season, Giroux has totaled three goals and five assists—his worst start since the 2009-2010 season. The Flyers' captain has also uncharacteristically racked up 12 penalty minutes early in the season.

According to CSNPhilly, some critics have even questioned if Giroux has fully recovered from his neck injury suffered while playing overseas during the lockout or perhaps nursing a minor injury.

Giroux claims to be healthy but disappointed with his play and rightly so. Coming off a 93 point season, and now being limited to one goal in the last 12 games is devastating.

But is Giroux buckling under pressure or simply a product of his environment?

Let's recap some season lows for the Flyers offensively.

Philly has witnessed their forward and emotional leader Scott Hartnell miss extended time while recovering from a foot injury. Last season, Hartnell led the team with 37 goals, and his absence is being felt by everyone.

Wayne Simmonds also missed some games due to a concussion suffered earlier in the season. Simmonds has quickly become a fan favorite for his hard-nosed, gritty style of play—with the ability to crash the net. 

The injuries to Hartnell and Simmonds limited G's play making ability—to an extent—as he is now pressing be the overall solution for the club. 

I also mentioned in a previous article, the loss of Jaromir Jagr is currently being felt by Philadelphia, specifically Giroux. During Jagr's one-year stint with the Flyers, G was able to build a rapport with the future Hall of Famer from the start.

Playing with Jagr allowed Giroux to organically play his style of hockey. Something fans have yet to witness this season. 

G has all the makings to be a great hockey player and an even better captain. He must understand the Flyers have young, talented players surrounding him such as Matt Read, Brayden Schenn, Luke Schenn and Sean Couturier—primed to excel alongside their captain.

Giroux may never become a pure goal scorer, but he is unquestionably a superstar. He must continue to hustle every play, while playing smart, disciplined hockey—his style of hockey and must now become the team leader, even during the worst of times.

That is what it takes to be captain of the Philadelphia Flyers, and Giroux is more than capable of owning this responsibility.