Fletcher did what he could to grant Giroux’s wish

Chuck Fletcher
      PHILADELPHIA – Chuck Fletcher summed up the whole situation in four words: “He earned the right.’’
      Fletcher was talking at a Sunday pre-game press briefing about Saturday night’s big trade which saw the Flyers send Claude Giroux to the Florida Panthers in exchange for forward Owen Tippett along with a swap of draft picks and prospects.
      Fletcher said the market for Giroux’s services might not have been as great as some media outlets reported. In fact, the Panthers might have been the only serious suitors.
      The GM’s hands were somewhat tied by Giroux’s no-movement clause in the expiring contract.
      “First of all, we signed Claude eight years ago to a lengthy, superstar kind of contract which he earned,’’ Fletcher said. “As part of that contract he had a no-move clause.
     “He earned that right.’’
     As for other possibles, such as Colorado, apparently there were no serious discussions.
    “I did have a very limited market to the teams I could speak with,’’ Fletcher said. “But none of those teams I would have been able to complete a deal with.’’
      Fletcher said he never thought the Flyers would be put in a position where they would have to part ways with a beloved player such as Giroux.
      “It’s been a difficult season, to put it mildly,’’ Fletcher said. “I don’t think either Claude or I thought it would ever get to this point. I think we kind of had higher aspirations for this season. We are where we are. It’s been a lot of work the last few weeks. This is where we are.’’
      Fletcher was asked how many teams actually expressed some sort of interest in Giroux.
      “There was a lot of interest in Claude but it was a very limited market that I could deal to,’’ Fletcher said. “If Claude wants to disclose that he can. I don’t begrudge him anything. We knew the hand we were dealt and we grinded away and did the best we could.’’
      Fletcher said he was in constant communication with Giroux and his agent, Pat Brisson, over the past year.
      “Things have evolved,’’ Fletcher said. “I’ve had an ongoing dialogue with Pat and Claude since the summer. We spoke to Claude probably every other day and then every day for the last month. He went through the process of deciding if he wanted to be traded and then thinking about where he might want to be traded. That was his process and again he earned that right. There was never, ever any animosity, nothing was acrimonious. Everything was done professionally, as it should be. We worked within the limitations that we had.’’
      As for Tippett, the Flyers have high hopes. He was in uniform on Sunday and wore No. 74 on a line with Morgan Frost and Oskar Lindblom.
      “He was in Charlotte last night,’’ Fletcher said. “We got him a flight to come in. Owen is a talented young player. He’s played 60 AHL games and has about 60 points, about a point a game player in the American League. I think he was on about a 12-goal pace with the Florida Panthers this year in a limited role.’’
      Tippett now gets a chance to show he can become an NHL mainstay. It was tough getting playing time in Florida.
      “They have a very deep and talented hockey club,’’ Fletcher said. “They’ve added Sam Bennett and Sam Reinhart over the past year in addition to Claude now. It’s a difficult lineup to crack. Owenr’s a young man who’s ready to take the step and play in the NHL. Like every young player, there are going to be things we have to work on to help him develop. But he has size, speed, skating, shot. He’s got a lot of attributes that I think we need.’’
      Fletcher wanted to make sure he received some immediate return on Giroux’s exit, hence Tippett.
      “That was our first priority,’’ Fletcher said. “Try to get a player – you talk about our age distribution internally. We’re trying to build a core of players under the age of 25 who play together here for a long time. Getting a player like Tippett instead of an additional pick – he was a first-round pick and he’s developed now. Time will tell if that means for the NHL. That’s exciting for us. He’s a guy who can come in and over the next couple years start to make an impact here.’’
      >Could Giroux possibly return next summer?
      If Giroux does not sign a contract with the Panthers before July 13, he could become an unrestricted free agent and sign with any team. Could that include the Flyers?
      Well, he didn’t want a contract extension over the past few years, so take what you want from that.
      “We tried,’’ Fletcher said. “I’m sure (former GMs) Ron Hextall, Paul Holmgren. . .everybody tried. We weren’t able to get there at this point in time. That’s the frustration and that’s where we are right now.’’
      That doesn’t mean Giroux couldn’t have a change of heart.

“First of all, he’s a member of the Florida Panthers so I have to be very careful what I say,’’ Fletcher said “I can tell you that we have a great relationship. I haven’t read any media accounts so I don’t know if anything has been said to the contrary. There was no acrimony, no animosity at all. We had three great conversations yesterday. This is a great fit for him now. He has that option as every UFA does this summer. I’m sure he’ll have a lot of options.’’

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About Wayne Fish 2409 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.