Inside the Flyers: Giroux stands by golf story; will be ready for opener

The Flyers' Claude Giroux underwent surgery to repair damaged tendons in his right hand during a golfing accident. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer.
The Flyers' Claude Giroux underwent surgery to repair damaged tendons in his right hand during a golfing accident. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer.
Posted: September 05, 2013

When the Flyers open training camp at the Wells Fargo Center next week, Claude Giroux, their marquee player, will not be ready to show off his talents because a golf club did more damage than a check thrown by Toronto bad boy Colton Orr.

Giroux isn't worried. He expects to be ready when the season starts Oct. 2 against the Maple Leafs, and the Flyers try to erase the memories of their Lockout Year Blues. In case you've forgotten, they missed the playoffs for just the second time in the last 18 seasons.

"I think everything will be back to 100 percent. I have no worries at all," said the Flyers captain. "The doctor says everything will be good."

While golfing in Ottawa about three weeks ago, Giroux's club inexplicably shattered and splintered into his right index finger, requiring tendon surgery.

Some folks think there's more to the story, that Giroux was upset with a shot and wrapped his club around a tree.

Forget those theories, Giroux said.

A gifted golfer who has an 8 handicap, Giroux said he used a pitching wedge for a 145-yard shot from the fairway and simply hit the grass far behind the ball, causing the club to shatter.

"I had to go over a tree and I tried to shoot it high," Giroux said the other day.

Instead, the ball barely moved and Giroux dropped to his knees in pain.

"Lots of people don't believe my story, but that's what really happened," Giroux said. "It was just a freaky thing."

Giroux, wearing a splint on the finger, skated at the Flyers' practice facility in Voorhees on Tuesday, and general manager Paul Holmgren said his recovery was "on schedule." In other words, Giroux - who has been working hard to build up his legs - is expected to be able to play in a few exhibition games and be ready for the opener.

"You need a couple games to get into your rhythm," he said.

As for the links mishap, Giroux refused to give the brand of the exploding golf club.

"I've never seen it before," he said. "Usually you see a club break where the shaft is. This time, it broke in the grip just under my hand. I still don't understand how it happened . . . but I have the club and I'm trying to find out."

Giroux joins a list of Philadelphia athletes who were injured away from their sport. That list includes former Phillies pitcher Curt Simmons, who sliced off part of his big left toe in a 1953 lawn-mower accident.

Some other notably odd injuries: Slugger Richie Allen, then playing for the Phillies, cut tendons and a nerve in his right hand as he broke a headlight while pushing his stalled car in 1967. And Andrew Bynum, who was a free-agent bust with the 76ers, reinjured his left knee while bowling last year.

Actually, Giroux's injury loses some of its bizarre nature when compared with some mishaps by other athletes.

Remember when former Atlanta pitcher John Smoltz reportedly burned his chest while ironing a shirt he was still wearing? Or when outfielder Rickey Henderson, then with Toronto, fell asleep on an ice pack and missed three games because of frostbite?

Do you recall when Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Orlando Brown was accidentally hit in the eye by a referee's weighted penalty flag, temporarily blinding him and causing him to miss three seasons? Or when goalie John Vanbiesbrouck, then with the New York Rangers, sliced a nerve and three tendons in his arm when a glass coffee table collapsed while he was sitting on it?

And who can forget when Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr., in the midst of his Ironman Streak, broke his nose during the 1996 All-Star Game team photo at Veterans Stadium. It happened when pitcher Roberto Hernandez slipped and struck Ripken with his arm.

You can't make this stuff up.

Especially this: Like Giroux, Bobby Cruickshank was injured on the golf course. Unlike the Flyers' star center, Cruickshank played golf for a living.

Back in 1934, Cruickshank, a popular Scotsman, was both fortunate and unlucky - and, well, almost dead - because of a crazy sequence of events.

With eight holes left, Cruickshank was leading the U.S. Open at Merion when his shot went into a creek, bounced off a rock and, quite amazingly, landed on the green. Joy-struck, Cruickshank threw his club high into the air and it came down on his head, knocking him unconscious. He eventually woke up, but finished tied for third place and won $400.

Again, you can't make this stuff up.


Inside the Flyers:

Inside

Flyers "kicking around" idea of inviting Gagne to camp. D2.


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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