Saturday, November 12 might not have been a date Claude Giroux literally had circled on his calendar, but it’s certainly one he took mental note of when the NHL released its full season schedule.
Giroux, after spending 15 seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, entered Wells Fargo Center as a member of the visiting team for the first time in his career Saturday. Now a veteran cornerstone on a young, up-and-coming Ottawa Senators squad, the seven-time NHL All-Star’s return to Philadelphia — a city that’s become his second home since the Flyers drafted him in 2006 — was intensely emotional.
The word “bittersweet” probably doesn’t do it justice. But it was a lot for the Flyers’ former longtime captain. Especially after the club paid tribute to him in front of thousands of his biggest fans on an enormous 90,000-pound scoreboard.
Love you, Claude pic.twitter.com/0XcBAbtQX9— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 12, 2022
“It was very awkward,” Giroux jokingly admitted after his team’s 4-1 victory over the Flyers.
“I get very awkward with the standing ovation like that. I was just waiting for Lauren (Hart) to start singing.”
In exactly 1,000 games as a Flyer, Giroux logged 291 goals and 609 assists for 900 total points in an orange and black sweater before being dealt to the Florida Panthers at last season’s trade deadline. Unfortunately, the Panthers were unable to advance past the second round of the playoffs with Giroux in the fold.
Not something Giroux isn’t accustomed to, sadly.
This season, though, Giroux is off to a hot start to begin his tenure with the Senators. He’s on an eight-game point streak and has posted seven goals and 15 total points in as many games thus far. Four of those points have come against the Flyers. He scored a goal early against the Flyers last weekend when the Senators hosted his former team in Ottawa. Saturday, Giroux registered a trio of assists in his new squad’s victory. One of them was a primary helper that sprung Thomas Chabot for a breakaway marker. Another came on the power play — a vintage Giroux bank pass off the end boards to Alex DeBrincat, who was stationed near the goal line.
But it turns out that apple was completely accidental.
“That pass was actually supposed to be for (Derick Brassard) and it went to the other side,” said Giroux.
“I can’t take the credit for that one.”
Accidental or not, many Flyers fans never would have known. Giroux pulled off that play numerous times during his tenure in Philadelphia, so those in attendance were hardly surprised.
When the game was said and done, Giroux earned third star honors for his solid performance.
Though his new team earned the victory — a big one as they look to keep up in the highly competitive Atlantic Division — Giroux still felt plenty of love from the Philly faithful.
“I was expecting to get booed a little bit more, but I’ve never done this before, coming back to a team that you played for a long time. Just coming in the building and seeing people that work here, faces that I’ve seen for 14 years, and just great people. Obviously it was fun for us. We were able to get a big win that we needed and I’m gonna remember this game for a long time.”
The Flyers will take on Giroux’s new squad one more time this season on Thursday, March 30 in Ottawa. It’s impossible to tell where either squad will be at that point in the season, but one can imagine Giroux will continue playing a significant role for the Senators as he hopes to end their five-year playoff drought.