The Flyers announced this morning that the Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association has named Claude Giroux as the team’s nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
The Masterton, officially, goes to “the player who best embodies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the game of hockey”. Every team has one player nominated by its respective PHWA chapter.
Giroux will likely not win the trophy when all is said and done. Among a crowded field of deserving honorees, New Jersey’s Brian Boyle (who was diagnosed with leukemia last summer only to make the All-Star game this year) and Carolina’s Jordan Staal (who tragically lost his newborn daughter last month due to a terminal birth defect) seem like the players most likely to be given the trophy this year.
But Giroux deserves plenty recognition for what he’s done this season to have arguably the best year of his career at age 30, after a pair of injury-plagued seasons that certainly made it appear that his best hockey was well behind him. Giroux underwent core surgery after the 2015-16 season and struggled to perform at the same level that he (and those watching him) were accustomed to for most of the 2016-17 season. It was easy for observers to think that the Giroux fans grew accustomed to seeing earlier in the decade wasn’t going to show up again.
They may have been right, but only because Giroux is currently performing at maybe a higher level than he’s ever been at in his career. Following a pre-season move to left wing, Giroux is currently tied for the NHL lead in assists with 65, and will likely set a career-high in points this season (he’d need three in the Flyers’ last six games). For a team on which secondary scoring has been hard to come by for significant portions of the year, Giroux’s play has been among the very few constants.
Giroux spoke with the Courier-Post’s Dave Isaac, the head of the Philly PHWA chapter, about being nominated for the award and getting back to where he knew he could this season following his injury and surgery:
“My mind was telling me to do something, but I just couldn’t do it,” he said. “By the end it was more of a mental thing and I had a really tough time but I was able to have a good summer and I had good people around me and help me get better. It was a process but right now it’s going pretty well and hopefully it can keep going.”
“It means a lot,” Giroux said of the nomination. “I’ve been through a lot and I’ve been able to have a lot of help from everybody that’s involved with me, my trainers in Philly (Jim McCrossin and Sal Raffa) and coaches and my trainer back home, Tony Greco. Just the dedication and all the time they put in on me, it’s been a great journey.”
Recent Flyers nominees for the Masterton include Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (2016-17), Shayne Gostisbehere (2015-16), Nick Schultz (2014-15), and Hal Gill (2013-14). The last Flyer to win the trophy was then-forward and current assistant coach Ian Laperriere, who won in 2011 after missing the entire season following the 2010 playoff run in which he infamously blocked a shot with his face.
The full text of the Flyers’ release on the nomination is below:
Members of the Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association have nominated Flyers captain, Claude Giroux, for the 2017-18 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
The NHL trophy is awarded annually to the player who best embodies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the game of hockey.
Said Giroux: ”It means a lot. I’ve been through a lot and I’ve been able to have a lot of help from everybody that’s involved with me, all my trainers here in Philly and my coaches and also my trainer back home Tony Greco. Just the dedication and all the time they’ve put in on me... it’s been a great journey.”
Giroux is in the midst of challenging his career highs set in 2011-12. He has recorded 26 goals and 65 assists for 91 points through 76 games which currently ranks fifth in the NHL. His 65 assists are tied for the NHL lead and tie his career high set in 2011-12 when he had 28 goals and 65 assists for 93 points.
”I think last year was pretty tough,” added Giroux. ”My mind was telling me to do something but I just couldn’t do it. At the end it was more of a mental thing and I had a really tough time. But like I said, I was able to have a good summer last summer and I had good people around me to help me get better. It was a process but right now it’s going pretty well and hopefully we can keep going.”
As compared to last season, through 76 games, Giroux’s numbers are as follows:
2016-17: 56 points (14g-42a) -14
2017-18: 91 points (26g-65a) +18
* Giroux has had 25 games with multiple points, including nine games with three or more points.
In addition to his season performance, Giroux has climbed numerous Flyers all-time scoring lists:
* He currently ranks fifth all-time in Flyers history in scoring with 666 points, surpassing five Flyers this season: Rod Brind-Amour, Mark Recchi, John LeClair, Tim Kerr and most recently, Eric Lindros.
* He ranks fourth in Flyers history in assists (460), three points behind Bill Barber (463) for third all-time, and just 20 points behind Brian Propp (480) for second all-time in franchise history.
* Giroux also ranks third all-time in Flyers history with 271 points on the power-play, behind only Bill Barber (280) and Bob Clarke (333).
* Giroux has also played the second-most games as a Flyer captain (447), trailing only Bob Clarke (610), and since being named captain on Jan. 15, 2013, he has missed just five games, appearing in 447 of a possible 452 contests.
Past nominees for the Masterton on the Flyers include: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (2017), Shayne Gostisbehere (2016) and Nick Schultz (2015). Only three Flyers have taken home the award in franchise history. Most recently Ian Laperriere won in 2010. Bob Clarke (1972) and Tim Kerr (1989) were also previous winners.
The winner is selected by a poll among the 30 chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season. A $2,500 grant from the PHWA is awarded annually to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund. Last season’s winner was Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson.
The trophy was presented by the NHL Writers’ Association in 1968 to commemorate the late Bill Masterton, a player with the Minnesota North Stars, who exhibited to a high degree the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, and who died January 15, 1968.