PHILADELPHIA – He spent 14 years in this town, played a thousand games and so while Claude Giroux was traded away from the Flyers late last season, a little bit of Philadelphia always will remain in his heart.
And more than a little bit of him will stay in the hearts of local hockey fans, which was evident on Saturday afternoon when the Wells Fargo Center crowd gave him a standing ovation upon his first return.
The Flyers also provided a video tribute.
Perhaps it was only fitting Giroux’s new team, the Ottawa Senators, should skate away with a 4-1 win. This game will leave him with a lasting good memory for the years to come.
After the game, Giroux said he appreciated the ovation and the video tribute. Left unsaid was that he probably could have expected nothing less.
Here are some of his thoughts about the special day:
>What was it like coming back: “Coming in the building and seeing the people that work here – just great people. It was fun for us, we got a big win that we needed. I’m going to remember this for a long time.’’
>During the ovation, what were your thoughts: “I respect the fan base so much, the players that play on that team. It felt really good.”
>Was there any good chirping out there today: “TK (Travis Konecny) had a few good ones in Ottawa (last week). The guys you would expect to give it to you did. I really enjoyed it.
>Did you know how to react to that ovation: “No, it was very awkward. I felt very awkward with a standing ovation like that.’’
>It looked like you were wearing your game face while that was going on: “Yeah, I didn’t want to get too emotional. I wanted to play a good game. In the position we are as a team (last place in the Atlantic Division), we needed this win. You try to focus as much as you can. That video was tough.’’
>Was this emotionally as tough as your last game here before getting traded: “Similar. I think I had a harder time in the game last year. There was a lot going on. That game last year helped me with this game this year. . .just to enjoy but at the end of the day there’s a game to be won.’’
>The Philly fans are known for their passion. Ottawa has some of that, too: “They (Senators fans) have a lot of passion, a lot of intensity. Our first game in Ottawa, the place was absolutely buzzing. I played a lot of hockey games here, heard a lot of boos, a lot of cheers but both of them kind of helped me in my career.’’
>It seemed like your teammates were motivated to get this win for you: “I like to think that we really needed this win. Brady (Tkachuk) told me he really wanted to get this one for me. It means a lot.’’