When the final roster was announced for Canada's Olympic hockey team, Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux was one of the star players omitted from the roster.
"It's obviously disappointing," Giroux admitted. "It was one of my dreams to play for Canada but there's a lot of good players from Canada and the names announced are talented, good players. It's disappointing, but it happens."
If we look at things objectively, it's not too hard to figure out some of the reasons the powers that be had for leaving Giroux off this year's Olympic team.
The biggest reason has to be the slow start Giroux had this season. The Flyers' captain failed to score a goal in the first 15 games of the campaign. That's longer than the entire Olympic tournament—even if Team Canada goes all the way to the gold medal game.
Canada cannot afford to have a player prone to such a lengthy slump on its roster if it can avoid it. In a close race between Giroux and another player, the scoring drought could have been the deciding factor.
The overall depth of Team Canada, especially at the center position, also did not work in Giroux's favor. Canada features Sidney Crosby, John Tavares, Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews and Ryan Getzlaf at center, with natural pivots Steven Stamkos, Matt Duchene and Patrick Marleau likely set to play as wingers at the Olympics.
Consider some of the other great players left off the Canadian team. Martin St. Louis is deemed one of the best passers in the game and has Olympic experience. Joe Thornton leads the league in assists with 43, two more than Crosby, but was also left off the team.
There were plenty of other quality players omitted from Canada's final roster as well, so Giroux was hardly alone.
Giroux tried to put on a brave face and hide his disappointment.
"Some believe everything happens for a reason, and if I didn't make this team, there's a reason behind it," Giroux told Morreale. "But I'm not upset or mad. It's a tough day, but it's a good thing I have a game so I can just put this behind me and keep moving forward."
Honestly, the "snub" of Giroux could be the best-case scenario for the Flyers. It could motivate Giroux to play even better hockey in the second half of this season to prove the decision-makers wrong.
In the two games since the announcement, he scored a goal in one and was a plus-two in the other. It was hardly a surprise that the Flyers won both contests.
You can make a good case to add Giroux to Team Canada, and he may indeed be added to the roster if other players get injured, but you can also make equal cases for many of the other players who were left off the Olympic roster.
In the end, Giroux's slow start to this season was probably the biggest reason he will be home during the Olympic break. It was not a clear-cut choice to leave Giroux off Team Canada, but he was not a lock to be included either. He now has four years to prove he belongs on the 2018 Olympic team—if NHL players participate.
That continues with the Flyers' next game against the Tampa Bay Lightning this Saturday. Don't be surprised if Giroux sends Lightning and Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman a strong message.
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