We all knew it was coming, and rather than delay what was already a foregone conclusion, the Philadelphia Flyers have announced that Claude Giroux is the 19th captain in team history.
It's expected that a more formal announcement will come on Thursday night in front of a sold-out (free, but sold out nonetheless) practice session at the Wells Fargo Center. Kimmo Timonen will serve as an associate captain this season while Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere will be alternate captains.
Quotes from people who matter, beginning with Paul Holmgren:
"Claude is the undisputed leader of this team," "He always exhibits a tremendous work ethic in games and practices. He is a great professional both on and off the ice. Claude has learned a lot over the past few years playing with Mike Richards, Danny Briere, Kimmo Timonen and Chris Pronger, just to name a few. Having played with these athletes has been a huge benefit for Claude."
"Basically, we have some veterans who are really solid guys and have been captains and could be captains, but I think they realize along with us that this is Claude's time. He is our leader and without a doubt our best player, and is one of the premier players in the NHL right now. I am very proud of him and I think this is only the beginning of a phenomenal, phenomenal career."
"Claude has put himself in this position by demonstrating excellent leadership qualities both on and off the ice. Every day he practices and plays games like he wants to make a difference. After watching him grow for three-plus years, it's now time for Claude to become the captain of this team."
"We're fortunate to have a strong leadership group in our locker room. With Kimmo Timonen as associate captain and Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere as assistant captains, we're confident we have the right people in place to lead this team."
And the Captain:
"Obviously, this is a huge honor. There have been a lot of great captains here in the past. Along with this comes a lot of responsibility which I am prepared for. Being named captain is not really going to change the way I play on the ice and act off the ice. But I am very excited about this opportunity."
It's a no-brainer, really. We can argue over the exact moment Claude Giroux took over this team, but it's no secret to anybody in the hockey world that it is indeed his team. And it'll be that way for a long time, we hope.
The Flyers' captaincy has been cursed a bit in recent years, from Eric Lindros to Keith Primeau to Mike Richards to Chris Pronger. But instead of naming another aging player (like Kimmo, for example) to the captaincy in the vein of Derien Hatcher or Eric Desjardins or Jason Smith, the Flyers have anointed the face of the franchise.
Claude Giroux is the best player on the Flyers. He might just be the best player in the world. And now he'll rightfully wear the C.