So we're doing this shit again, huh?
I mean, listen. I get it. Beat writers have a tough, thankless job. They mostly get summers off, but from September to July, it's a damn grind. They wake up, go to a workplace where none of their clients want to talk to them, and they have to somehow dig something interesting up, every day. They're talking to players and coaches and management and trying to figure out, every single day, something new and interesting to write about. It gets repetitive. It can get boring, especially after a decade or more of doing the same thing.
Add 41 games of travel into it, and add an extremely uninteresting, mediocre hockey team into it, and I get it. It's not easy. It's harder than people realize, in all seriousness.
But maybe -- just maybe -- it's best if we don't tarnish the reputation of the people we cover just because we have nothing else to write about.
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Just days ago, the Flyers were an interesting hockey team. They were in a playoff race, yet they were selling off pieces at the NHL trade deadline. There was shit to talk about! Show up at work on Monday though and the team is out of that playoff race and staring down the barrel of 20 more meaningless hockey games. Just running out the damn string.
It sucks if you're a Flyers fan. It sucks if you're a Flyers writer. Here's a look at our Broad Street Hockey traffic over the last three weeks. It has gone down! People are not really interested right now!
But we're not out here just making shit up so people will click.
That's apparently what Randy J. Miller is doing over at NJ.com, though. Just stirring shit up to stay relevant.
"Sinking again with Giroux!"
This is Philadelphia sports journalism at its finest, so we can blatantly ignore the fact that Ron Hextall explicitly said this morning that Claude Giroux isn't the problem with this Flyers team. That it's a team problem, not an individual one.
We can ignore that.
We can ignore that Giroux has more points than 833 of the 844 players who have played in the NHL this season. We can ignore that his even strength scoring problems a problem of bad luck, and nothing else. We can ignore he's one of the best hockey talents to call Philadelphia home in this decade, or last decade, or the four decades before that. We can ignore that he wears his heart on his sleeve every night. We can ignore that if you've ever watched him for more than a minute, you know that he's a guy who gives his all every night and is an elite talent that wants nothing more than to win.
Forget all of that, though. We're bored and we have nothing else to talk about, so facts don't matter. CLAUDE GIROUX IS A PROBLEM.
Let's let Randy J. take it away:
Despite all that though, the Flyers are closing in on their second non-playoff season in Giroux's three seasons as captain. The only other captains in franchise history who have that on their resumes are Ed Van Impe in the early 70s and Ron Sutter in the early '90s.
So what you're telling me is that for most of their 48 year history, the Flyers have routinely been a team good enough to qualify for the playoffs in a league where more than half of teams make the playoffs? Interesting.
Again, the Flyers' recent struggles aren't all on Giroux, but teammates calling each other out for not competing and underachieving is partly on him.
What's bothersome is that this honestly coming from the Flyers dressing room is coming from alternate captains Wayne Simmonds and Mark Streit, and goaltender Steve Mason. Top scorer Jakub Voracek sometimes can play this role, as well.
For whatever reason, Giroux just doesn't seem comfortable answering tough questions during tough times.
Giroux's take usually is "we did a lot of good things out there" or "we made some mistakes, but we'll go watch the film and try to get better."
That's not how Chris Pronger or Bobby Clarke would handle these types of issues.
(Note: Chris Pronger was captain of the Flyers for 13 games.)
If Giroux is chewing out teammates for not playing hard enough and making stupid mistakes, it's a well-kept secret.
There's something to be said about true leaders. They don't let their emotions get the best of them in public. They are calm, cool and collected in the front of the house, but they're able to turn up the heat when the cameras aren't rolling and the public isn't watching.
You don't air out your dirty laundry in public. That's how adults get shit done.
During Giroux's first season as captain he blew off the media after a frustrating road loss. He vowed it wouldn't happen again. It did.
god-for-fucking-bid he doesn't talk to you people after you
It's at a point now that now where beat writers sometimes don't even request to add Giroux to the post-game interview list because his quotes often as unusable clichés. More often than not, Giroux gives short answers that doesn't come close to matching the kind of honestly that Mason, Simmonds and Streit usually provide.
Leaving that task to others isn't a sign of strong leadership.
Poll any random selection of Flyers fans. Poll the Flyers front office. Poll the Flyers locker room.
Look at the number of people who care what Claude Giroux says in front of a camera versus the number of people who couldn't care less as long as he's performing on the ice. This has absolutely nothing to do with him wearing a 'C' on his shirt. Absolutely, positively nothing.
Nobody cares about post-game quotes -- at least not 99% of the time -- except the media members that are required to put them in their awful, uninsightful post-game stories.
The same goes for embarrassing the organization with off-ice issues.
Giroux just finished his first season as captain two summers ago when a golf club supposedly shattered in his hand. Ever heard of that happening to anyone else?
Is that what really happened? A lot of of people think there's more to the story.
Randy is echoing the same conspiracy theory that we heard over the summer in an incoherent rant from CSN's Tim Panaccio. That the golf club thing was some complicated lie the Flyers made up to hide whatever it was Claude was actually doing. In the off chance that's even true, who cares? It was the summer. Claude Giroux can do whatever he wants in the summer -- golfing or not -- as long as it doesn't impact his game on the ice. It never has.
Then there was the drunken butt-pinching-the-cop episode in an Ottawa bar last summer which landed him behind bars for a night.
Giroux hasn't talked about any of those incidents.
For the billionth time, what Claude Giroux or any of the Philadelphia Flyers do in the offseason is none of our business. Not yours, not mine, not Randy J. Miller's.
Taking everything into account, should the Flyers get a new captain next season?
If so, whom should it be?
Simmonds or Streit seemingly would be the obvious choice, although Mason might be the best leader on the team. And while goalies almost never are captains, Roberto Luongo captained the Vancouver Canucks in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
This is a tough call.
It'd be a tough call if the Flyers didn't have a perfectly fine captain already.
Dealing with the media is only part of a captain's job, but all those quotes this season about the Flyers not competing partially is an indictment on Giroux.
Only on NJ.com. Not in the real world.
On the other hand, Giroux still piles up points and he's as much of a worker on the ice as anyone in the NHL.
Nice to add that caveat at the end of this hit piece, though. Fair and balanced, just like Fox News!
Vote to give us your opinion on who should wear the 'C' for the Flyers.
Maybe Randy J. should be captain. Then we can run him out of town unfairly, too.