Claude Giroux and the case for the Hart Trophy runners-up

Yesterday afternoon, a question was posed to the Puck Drunk Love staff. With all the drooling and stroking of Patrice Bergeron’s chances at the Hart Trophy sauntering south from New England over the last few weeks, why isn’t there a similar push for Claude Giroux rising from the streets of Philadelphia?

Let’s get one thing straight here: there is no debate about who is going to win the NHL’s Most Valuable Player award this season. This is merely a contribution to the conversation of “who’s number two.”

Yes, we’re all aware of Philadelphia’s horrid start, punctuated by their captain’s inability to find the back of the net. And we all noticed his meteoric rise to rejoin the league’s elite.

Then, the Olympics happened. With Giroux out of sight and out of mind while his countrymen dominated the competition en route to gold in Sochi, everyone more or less stopped paying attention to him.

We must all have been too busy criticizing Martin St. Louis for behaving like a pissed off toddler.

Giroux’s outstanding season has fallen nearly on deaf ears amongst the Philadelphia media, who seemingly refuse to acknowledge it because it doesn’t fit into their narrative. After all, it was known buffoon Sam Carchidi, of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who was fueling the fire of pitchfork owners in the City of Brotherly Overreaction Love when the chips were down back before Thanksgiving.

After snubbing the media following another frustrating early-season loss, Carchidi penned a column slamming Giroux’s ability to lead. Let’s take a look and have a good laugh: 

Maybe Claude Giroux was upset at another loss, this one a 3-0 defeat to struggling New Jersey on Thursday.

Maybe he was boiling because the fans booed the Flyers throughout another listless effort.

Or maybe he was just disappointed in himself for failing to score a goal in his 21st straight game, including the first 15 this season.

Whatever the reason, the Flyers’ captain walked out of the WFC and refused to talk to the media after the Flyers fell to 4-10-1.

Good captains don’t do that.

According to Carchidi, the real mark of a good captain is how long they stick around to answer his inane questions.

Do you think he considers giving an outstanding individual effort to defeat the defending Stanley Cup champions in overtime part of his criteria? Is that what makes a good captain, Sam? Because Claude Giroux does that.

Giroux’s two goals on Tuesday propelled the Flyers to a 5-2 win over Florida, keeping them just ahead of Detroit and Columbus in the Eastern Conference playoff race. He now has 27 goals for the year, which is as many as Kyle Okposo, another player we’ve all curiously forgotten about since the Olympics. I wonder why.

He ranks fourth in the league in assists (54) and points (81) with three games to go, and although measuring a player’s “value” is one of the silliest uses of a logically thinking writer’s time, it’s frightening to think about what the Flyers would look like without him.

Giroux’s troubling start to the 2013-14 season feels like lightyears away and the Flyers are preparing for a seven-game battle with their rivals from Manhattan. His effect on a team that employs Steve Mason and Ray Emery as their goaltenders and Braydon Coburn as their top defenseman can’t be understated or ignored.

No matter how hard Sam Carchidi wants to ignore it.