It isn’t often that an all-time franchise icon, let alone an athlete with their name present in the top three-to-five of several franchise leaderboards, gets to make a return to the city they used to call home.
For Claude Giroux, this will become a reality on Saturday when the Flyers host the Ottawa Senators. For the Flyers, it will be the first time in quite some time that a player with as much franchise lore as Giroux will return to play for an opposing team. With all the roster turnover that has happened in recent years, one can think of recent examples such as Jakub Voracek returning to Philadelphia as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The fan reaction to Voracek’s return was a warm welcome for a franchise icon. However, while Voracek is undoubtedly an iconic Flyer of the 2010’s, and sits 10th in Flyers’ history in points (5th in assists as well), his return will likely fall far short of the reception Claude Giroux will receive. It’s being anticipated enough that the official Flyers’ accounts have laid it out in the manner of a special event night (rightfully so).
We're back at home and it's a big week on Broad Street. #FueledByPhilly— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) November 7, 2022
Other than the above example, the last Flyers’ player of Giroux’s magnitude to return to Philadelphia that has been this anticipated would be Eric Lindros when he was a member of the New York Rangers, and while nowadays there is nothing but love for #88, back then the relationship between the former captain and the team was far more contentious, with a mix of cheering and booing from the crowd, and certainly no grand reception.
Things will be far different for Giroux. We’re unsure exactly what the Flyers will do to honor him, but we would expect both a full house and a lengthy standing ovation for the man who has his name etched into countless moments in Flyer history.
Of course, during his career, Giroux had appreciators and doubters, as any NHL player has/ However, on Saturday we think the sentiment will be wholly uniform.
To quote Joni Mitchell, “don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.”