As Snoop Dogg proclaims on the popular TV beer commercial: “The best plans are no plans.’’
One might apply this thinking to the decision by the Flyers and former 14-year star Claude Giroux to a mutual parting of the ways back on March 19.
The only people who really know how the long-time Philadelphia captain ended up with the Florida Panthers are Giroux, Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher and Giroux’s agent, Pat Brisson.
Fletcher had very little leverage in the situation because Giroux was/is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July.
If Fletcher didn’t make a deal before the NHL trade deadline, he would have probably ended up having Giroux finish a meaningless season with the Flyers and then just walk away with nothing in return.
Meanwhile, whatever sentimental feelings Giroux had toward the orange, black and white probably were compromised by the urge to take a legitimate shot at a Stanley Cup with the President’s Trophy-winning Florida Panthers.
Most likely his plan was to tell Fletcher his preference for trade destinations and the Panthers seemed like a wise choice.
In a sense, Giroux’s plan was to follow in the footsteps of former teammate Kimmo Timonen, who asked out of Philadelphia in the spring of 2015 and went on to win his first and only Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Once Fletcher was able to come to terms with Florida — the Flyers getting highly rated prospect Owen Tippett, a first-round draft pick in 2024 and a third-round pick in 2023 in return – the deal was set.
But, as the profound Snoop has pointed out, the best plans sometimes really are no plans.
The Panthers got past the Washington Capitals in a six-game opening round victory but then reality hit. The two-time Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning made short work of Giroux’s crew, sweeping the regular-season juggernaut in four straight games.
Meanwhile, the other team Giroux was rumored to be headed to, Colorado, remains alive in the Western Conference competition, although the Avalanche did cough up a 3-0 lead in Game 5 of a series with the Craig Berube-coached St. Louis Blues.
So what’s the “plan’’ now? Will Giroux re-sign with the Panthers or become a free agent this summer?
A few rumors have it Giroux could return to Philadelphia although that appears unlikely.
Keep in mind, early in the 2021-22 season, Giroux and Fletcher reportedly did have contract talks about a possible extension, although how serious those negotiations got remains conjecture.
At an exit day press briefing in Florida, Giroux admitted it was a “strange’’ year.
He says he wouldn’t mind coming back to Florida because he’s enjoyed his brief time there. Plus he believes the talent-laden team has a bright future and should remain in serious contention for years to come.
“It was a strange year for sure,’’ Giroux said. “Leaving Philly after being there for 14 years. It was tough, tougher than I thought it was going to be.’’
Would be consider re-signing with the Flyers if Fletcher came calling with pen and paper?
Giroux didn’t rule the possibility out.
“Those are big questions I can’t answer right now,’’ he said. “I don’t know what the future holds right now. But there will be a lot of conversations happening coming soon.’’
Sounds like there isn’t a firm plan in place yet and not having one just might be the best strategy of all.
>No need to get personal
Berube, who maintains strong family roots in Bucks County (he was a long-time resident of Buckingham during his many seasons with the Flyers), was quick to come out and criticize the death threats made against Colorado’s Nazem Kadri after the Avalanche star knocked out St. Louis Blues goalie Jordan Binnington for at least the rest of the series with a questionable hit the other night.
Kadri claims he received both derogatory racial remarks and death threats through social media.
Those, according to Berube, are unacceptable.
“I’m not on social media,’’ Berube said. “I was aware of a threat made to Nazem, not the racist stuff. In no way is it acceptable by the St. Louis Blues or anybody else for him to have to go through that,” Berube told reporters in his game day availability.
“Being a Native American myself, I’ve heard it all, I’ve been around it. It’s not a good thing. So, I just wanted to get that out there that there’s no room for it anywhere.”
Bravo, coach Berube. A lot of nasty stuff happens on the hockey rink but that’s where it should stay. Hockey is just a game and should be treated as such. Threatening players simply gives the sport’s fans a black eye.
>Last call for Penguins stars?
Ron Hextall, considered the second-best goaltender in Flyers history only to legend Bernie Parent, now runs the show in Pittsburgh as GM of the Penguins.
He’s done an admirable job in his year on the job but this offseason promises to be challenging for the team considered the Flyers’ No. 1 “enemy.’’
Both superstars Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are scheduled to become UFAs and Hextall might have some tough decisions to make. Along with Sidney Crosby, Malkin and Letang have been the core of this semi-dynasty over the past 15 years. Now some believe the curtain is about to come down on this group of Pens as we know them.
Consider, the Penguins don’t have a ton of salary cap room. Malkin (coming off a contract of $9.5-million per season) and Letang ($7.5M) are both 35, so how long would extensions look like?
“In a perfect world he (Malkin) retires a Penguin,’’ Hextall said. “And I think Tanger’s the same.’’
You won’t see the Flyers and their fans crying any tears if Malkin and Letang sign somewhere else but it sure would take some of the excitement out of the yearly Battles of Pennsylvania.