It’s happened only one other time in team history, so why wouldn’t the Flyers want to make a big deal out of Thursday night’s celebration to commemorate Claude Giroux’s 1,000th NHL game?
From special pre-game warmup jerseys to on-ice ceremonies, players were excited to participate in this special event as the Nashville Predators visited the Wells Fargo Center.
Hall of Fame player Bob Clarke was the first to achieve four digits and eventually wound up with 1,210 games.
Giroux was set to get to that coveted mark and his teammates couldn’t be happier.
“Just to be able to be part of a game like this is something I’ll remember for the rest of my career,’’ said Joel Farabee after the morning skate at the WFC. “I think everyone in the room is so happy for ‘G’ and everything he’s done. He’s given everything he’s had to this organization. The least we could do is have a big celebration for him. I think everyone is looking forward to the game tonight.’’
Farabee, who just turned 22, said Giroux is a great role model, both on and off the ice.
“I think a lot of the little things he does go under cover,’’ Farabee said. “Like so hard he works off the ice, things like that. It’s stuff you try to emulate. I really don’t think there’s anyone who could live up to what he’s done for this city and this organization – a guy that’s led by example for a really long time. Definitely someone I’ve always looked up to. He’s been so good to me as a young guy coming up in this league.’’
If there’s one shadow cast over the situation it’s Monday’s NHL trade deadline. With Giroux’s contract expiring and unrestricted free agency pending in July, many believe No. 28 will be departing to a serious Stanley Cup contender.
For Farabee and other young players, it could be a bittersweet few days ahead.
“For sure, I think I’ve seen the (Giroux) highlight reel a few times,’’ he said. “It was just pretty cool as a youth hockey player being able to watch him. It’s something that’s really special to me.’’
Farabee has already made his mark in the NHL. In last season’s shortened 56-game campaign, he led the team with 20 goals.
“Just the way he’s handled me,’’ Farabee said. “As a young guy, he’s been so nice to me, led me in so many great directions. I’m forever grateful for him. Whatever happens here in the next few days, I really wish him the best.’’
Much has been said and written about Giroux’s competitive nature. It says a lot about his leadership skills as the Flyers’ longest alltime tenured captain.
“Just his competitiveness, whether it’s playing ‘horse’ (call your shot basketball) or soccer, he wants to win,’’ Farabee said. “That’s the biggest thing I’ll take away from playing with him. It’s just his will to win and what he does each day to take steps toward that goal. There’s really not enough good things you can say about him.’’
Interim head coach Mike Yeo was wearing a Giroux-1,000 shirt after the practice.
“A lot of emotion for ‘G’ in particular,’’ Yeo said regarding the game. “The guys are excited for the day and everyone is embracing the idea of let’s make it a special day for him. The challenge will be to enjoy it but let’s play a great game, too.’’
Yeo said the Predators probably won’t have any problem focusing on the game itself, so the Flyers have to be prepared to get down to business at the first puck drop.
“We have to be ready to go,’’ he said.
Yeo said he had a conversation with Giroux on Wednesday.
“I said just try to focus on today (and not worry about the deadline),’’ Yeo said. “Sometimes great players have a tendency to do something great. I’m not trying to put that pressure on him but there is that potential. We want it to be a special memory for him as well. We’re going to have to play real hard tonight.’’
Carter Hart was set to start in goal against Nashville. Yeo said Martin Jones will play at Ottawa on Friday night. . .Max Willman, recently called up from the Phantoms, was scheduled to play on the fourth line with Gerry Mayhew coming out.