I’m going to do something here that I don’t usually like to do. I’m going to talk about the, uh ...
Hm. Huh. Crap. I’m not entirely sure what to call these. “Rumors” isn’t the right term, since no person with any reporting chops to their name has even remotely suggested that Claude Giroux getting traded to the Ottawa Senators is something that could happen this offseason. “Speculation” gets us closer, but again, using that term implies at least a modicum of legitimacy, which this situation does not warrant at this time.
The idea. Idea. Let’s go with that. Let’s talk about the idea, one which has primarily popped up within various Senators-related social media avenues, that the Senators are going to trade for the Flyers’ franchise player and captain of nine years this offseason, as he enters the final year of his eight-year contract.
Again, this is a bit of a waste of time. In terms of legitimate outlets discussing this, the list pretty much starts and ends with this piece from Ian Mendes over at The Athletic, in which none other than BSH Radio’s own Charlie O’Connor is quoted reinforcing the overarching point of the article: Claude Giroux is not getting traded to Ottawa. Treating the idea that he will with any degree of seriousness is pretty silly.
But you know what? It’s June, our team isn’t in the playoffs, and I need something to get fired up about. Let’s waste some time.
Reason No. 1 That Claude Giroux Is Not Getting Traded This Offseason (And Definitely Not To Ottawa): The Flyers are not trading Claude Giroux.
I’m willing to bet there are a decent number of observers — both in and out of the Flyers’ fanbase — that think that what the Flyers need is a full-on rebuild. That they’re too stuck in the middle in the NHL, too far away from being a true contender and too good to be a true bottom-dweller, and that the needle for them to thread this offseason to really take the next step as a team is just too small, and as such they should probably just take it all apart and try and start over. That would most likely mean trading some of their high-end veterans that are still positive-value players, including Sean Couturier and, indeed, Claude Giroux.
And the folks who believe that? They might be right. I don’t think I’m there, but I see how a reasonable person could look at the Flyers’ current situation and think that they should just start over. Sure.
You know who doesn’t think that’s what the Flyers need right now? The people leading the Flyers. Their ownership, front office, coaching staff — you know, the ones making the actual decisions? That group has given no indication whatsoever that they plan to gut this team with two eyes on the future this offseason. Chuck Fletcher, at every chance he’s got even since the Flyers’ disastrous month of March got underway, has stated that he expects this team to be much improved in 2021-22, and that they believe that with something closer to a normal offseason and season on the horizon, this team can be like what it was prior to the COVID pause in March 2020.
And even specifically in the case of Giroux, do you think Fletcher is clamoring to trade the guy about whom he said this the day after the season ended?
“If you look at the last couple months, nobody played harder than Claude Giroux,” he said.
Do you think Alain Vigneault is lobbying the front office to deal the guy about whom he thinks this?
“In my time here with Claude, he’s been working extremely hard to be the best player he can be and to be the best captain he can be,” Vigneault said. “We had talked at the end of last year about a couple areas that I thought he could improve, and he’s been trying very hard. These are very challenging circumstances for our group, and he’s tried to lead by example and tried to do the right thing, so that’s what you want from your captain and that’s what we’re getting from Claude.”
Again, this is not necessarily a question of what the Flyers should do. Reasonable minds can disagree about that. It’s a question of what the Flyers have repeatedly told us they are going to do, or not do. Plans can change, and if the Flyers stumble again next season, maybe there’s a difficult conversation to be had before the trade deadline. But at this point the Flyers’ plans pretty clearly do not involve getting rid of their franchise icon.
That should be enough, as it is. “The Flyers aren’t trading Claude Giroux”, therefore, “the Flyers aren’t trading Claude Giroux to Ottawa.” But, just in case ...
Reason No. 2 That Claude Giroux Is Not Getting Traded This Offseason (And Definitely Not To Ottawa): Claude Giroux has a no-movement clause and has given no indication he wants to waive it.
A quote from Giroux in post-season media availability the day after the season ended that caught a bit of attention was this:
Giroux: "I want to win. I'm pretty pissed off at the position we're in now."— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) May 11, 2021
Giroux has, by all accounts, loved being a member of this organization even as the team has floundered a bit through most of his prime and his captaincy. A quote like that could make an observer — a reasonable or unreasonable one — think that maybe, just maybe, the state of the organization has led Giroux to the point where his no-movement clause, which he’s implicitly referred to in the past as something he would use if necessary, may no longer be a factor.
Maybe you would believe that ... if you didn’t also see this quote from two weeks prior to that other one in which he straight up said that he wants to be with this team for the rest of his career.
On the other side of this two-headed negotiation, Giroux has been carrying the burden of being a member of the Flyers for 14 years now and wants to stick around until he’s ready to call it a career.
“I think when you have a chance to play with one organization your whole career,” Giroux told the media on Monday, “it’s something to be proud of. This organization has a great reputation and since I’ve been here, they have treated me great. So, if I can, that would be great.”
Pretty cut and dry there, no?
And, for good measure, if the Flyers did decide they wanted to trade Giroux but the captain said he wanted to stay here, it seems rather difficult to believe that, just a couple years after Ron Hextall’s handling of the team’s relationships with its alumni forced the organization to remind everyone that if you’re a Flyer you’re a Flyer for life, the Flyers would try and unceremoniously push the guy who’s going to end his career top-5 in basically every meaningful franchise statistic out the door. The only possible scenario in which it would make sense for Giroux to waive this offseason would be if the Flyers told him they weren’t going to re-sign him, which would imply to some degree that they’re planning to start over with this group ... which, as we discussed in Reason No. 1 That Claude Giroux Is Not Getting Traded This Offseason (And Definitely Not To Ottawa), is not something the team is going to do at this time.
So. The team doesn’t want to trade him, and he doesn’t want to leave. Open and shut, right?
Well ... yes. Yes, it is. But let’s keep talking.
Reason No. 3 That Even If The Flyers Did Want To Trade Claude Giroux (Which They Do Not) And Even If Giroux Wants To Waive His No-Move Clause (Which He Does Not), He Is Definitely Not Getting Traded To Ottawa: Why on earth would Claude Giroux waive his no-move clause to go to Ottawa?
Much of the buzz in the Ottawa talkosphere about the possibility of Giroux getting traded there revolves around the fact that he is, in their eyes, something of a local boy. And while, as we have, somehow, discussed on this website before, it’s true that Giroux’s hometown of Hearst, Ontario is not particularly close to Ottawa, that doesn’t really matter — Giroux and his wife have a house in Ottawa, they spend time there during the offseason, and it seems likely that unless there’s a job of some sort awaiting him in the U.S., they’re going to move back there whenever he hangs up the ol’ skates. The area clearly means something to him.
This, as much as anything, is probably what’s driving Ottawa fans’ lust for the Flyers’ captain. And to be honest, as someone who has seen this town thirst over Bobby Ryan and Johnny Gaudreau for the past 15 years solely because they’re good hockey players that are From Here enough to know that Pat’s and Geno’s are trash? I can respect that.
Nonetheless, let’s think rationally here. “Claude Giroux spends his offseasons in Ottawa” and “Claude Giroux is probably going to spend his post-retirement time in Ottawa” does not mean “Claude Giroux would choose to go to the Ottawa Senators hockey team over other alternatives”, which is effectively what waiving his no-movement clause to go there would mean.
As Giroux said above, he wants to win. Ottawa has dug its way out of the depths of despair that it was in a couple of years ago, and it’s true that they’ve got young talent that should in theory continue to improve, as well as cap space to work with this offseason ... but none of that changes the fact that they finished this recently-concluded season with 51 points in 56 games. The Sens’ long-term outlook has a lot of potential, but a 33-year-old that hasn’t sniffed the conference finals since he was 22 does not care about potential that hasn’t yet materialized. Ottawa is still not a good hockey team right now, and unless basically all of their young talent takes a meaningful step forward next season, they get better goaltending, and they absolutely nail the hell out of this offseason, they are not going to contend for anything meaningful in 2021-22.
Pretty much everyone knows this, and “pretty much everyone” includes Claude Giroux. And while I’m sure Ottawa would see the appeal of having him around as a leader-type figure (because, believe it or not, people outside of Philadelphia tend to perceive him as a good leader), Giroux has been a leader to a team that wasn’t winning anything of importance for almost a decade, and if he wants to continue doing that, he can just stay in Philadelphia as he has said he wants to. If he is leaving the only team he’s ever known, it’s because he thinks doing so will get him a Stanley Cup sooner rather than later, and whatever you can say about their later, Ottawa ain’t got much in terms of sooner.
All of which is to say that, if it was made clear to the NHL this offseason that Claude Giroux is available for trade, and if Giroux — by way of his no-movement clause — effectively gets to choose his destination, there would absolutely be a team closer to near-term Cup contention than Ottawa is that would put in a bid for him, and it seems very, very difficult to imagine him not picking whoever he thinks the best team is right now. The fact that Ottawa has a war chest of draft picks and talented young players and prospects and can probably put up a decent-value offer doesn’t really matter, because none of that is going to make Giroux say that he would rather go there than a team that can actually win the Cup in the next year.
And even with all of that aside, if Ottawa — who, again, no rational person thinks is a Claude Giroux away from serious contention next season — believes that it has a strong pitch for Giroux as a team on the rise in an area he calls home, and thinks it can get him because of that, why would they give up whatever it would take for the Flyers to trade him if they can just sign him in free agency the following year? If it makes half as much sense as Ottawa fans would have you believe it does, why not save those assets for something else?
Again, this is all just looking at this offseason. If things go reasonably well or better for the Flyers this coming season, I fully expect them to re-sign him on a deal that will probably keep him here for the rest of his career. But if the Flyers stumble again and change direction, and if Ottawa does turn into the team that their fans seem to think is on the horizon quicker than most of us anticipate? Maybe then there’s something here.
But until that happens, please do what I could not and ignore anyone attempting to speak this into reality. Claude Giroux is still going to be the Flyers’ captain when the puck drops on the 2021-22 season.