Saturday might have been the day that put Claude Giroux’s eventual candidacy for the Hall of Fame over the top. That’s a strange thing for an All-Star Game MVP nod, but sometimes you need a cherry on the sundae to bring it home.
We’ve passed the point of Giroux’s career, at the age of 34, where the pride of Hearst, Ontario, will contend for most of the NHL’s awards. He’s been in the top four of MVP voting on three occasions, most recently in 2017-18, when he led the league with 68 assists as part of a career-best 102-point season. He’s gotten some Selke and Lady Byng votes along the way, too, but never really contended for those.
What Giroux has been, for a decade and a half, is the driving force of the Philadelphia Flyers. That’s not currently an exciting thing to be, sitting seventh in the Metropolitan Division, but he’s led the Flyers to a Stanley Cup Final and a couple of other deep playoff runs. It’s hardly Giroux’s fault that Philadelphia hasn’t had reliable goaltending since the Quebec Nordiques and Hartford Whalers existed.
Assuming that the active players ahead of him — Nicklas Bäckström, Jason Spezza, Patrice Bergeron, Phil Kessel, and Steven Stamkos — also get there, Giroux stands to become the 98th player in NHL history to record 1,000 career points. That’s not a milestone that guarantees entry to the Hall, as Brian Bellows and Steve Larmer can attest, but it helps to get there in this era, as opposed to the 1980s.
It was silly 10 years ago when Peter Laviolette called Giroux “the best player in the world,” and he’s among quite a group of players to be lined up as potential challengers to Sidney Crosby over the years as such. But you don’t have to be the best player in the world to get to the Hall of Fame, you have to be a Hall of Fame-level player.
Giroux has been rock steady as a top-tier player over the course of his career. Even though Canada won gold at the 2014 Olympics, it was ludicrous that Giroux was left off that team, during a season in which he was a Hart Trophy finalist. With that medal, he’d have a much easier case for the Hall when it’s all said and done.
Now, after scoring three goals in Las Vegas while serving as a replacement captain for COVID-positive Alex Ovechkin, it’s finally time to give Giroux his flowers, and the kind of individual accolade, even from an exhibition, that can make the difference for one day getting to the Hall.