Giroux puts forth Olympic effort for Yzerman

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Claude Giroux is on the roster bubble for Team Canada.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Claude Giroux is on the roster bubble for Team Canada.
Posted: December 06, 2013

DETROIT - Steve Yzerman is willing to cut Claude Giroux some slack.

Team Canada's general manager believes veteran NHL players like Giroux deserve to have their Olympic dreams judged not only by a 15-game span to start the season but on their overall career résumé.

"For guys who have been in the league a long time, they have more of a body of work," Yzerman said last night at Joe Louis Arena. "You know what type of player they are and what they do well. Younger players, a guy who has been maybe 2 years in the league, [it's] a little bit different. You want to see him go to another level.

"The veterans get a little more leeway based on what they've done in their career but they still have to be good players."

Yzerman took a break from his GM duties with the Lightning and flew to Detroit yesterday solely to watch Giroux against the Red Wings. No other player on the Flyers or Red Wings is in contention to make Team Canada.

Giroux took advantage by scoring a pretty power-play goal to knot the game at 3-3 in the third period and added an assist on Scott Hartnell's power-play goal that put the Flyers ahead 5-3. They go on to win, 6-3.

Yzerman made a joke when asked if Giroux hurt his chances to make the Olympic team by not attending the orientation camp in Calgary in August.

"If we're playing on running shoes, he'll be at a disadvantage," Yzerman said with a smile. "We're not playing on running shoes."

Both the United States and Canada did not have their players participate in on-ice activities in August because of sky-high insurance costs. Instead, Canada's top players walked through potential drills in street clothes holding sticks in their hands.

Early reports suggested Giroux rankled Canada executives when he chose not to show up, opting instead to rehab his recently repaired hand from last summer's golfing accident. Starting out with just seven assists in the first 15 games didn't help build a better case, but Yzerman said neither is the end of the world. San Jose's Joe Thornton also didn't attend. Boston's Patrice Bergeron wasn't even invited in 2010 and made the final team.

"We would have liked him to come," Yzerman said. "But he was busy rehabbing. That's fine. That doesn't make a difference."

Last night was already an important contest for Giroux's Olympic dreams, with Team Canada head coach Mike Babcock getting an up-close view from the Red Wings' bench. Yzerman only added to it.

When Babcock turned on his television at home on Monday night, he kept an eye on Giroux and the Flyers in Minnesota. And it wasn't only because his Wings were about the play the Flyers.

Babcock also said he flipped back and forth between the Rangers and Canadiens to check out New York's Marc Staal and Montreal's P.K. Subban, two other players reportedly on the roster bubble.

Following Detroit's practice on Tuesday, Babcock was asked how he would evaluate Giroux's up-and-down season. The Flyers' captain has rebounded with 13 points in his last 13 games.

"He's a good player," Babcock said. "Let's watch him."

Neither Babcock nor Yzerman like to discuss potential candidates individually, but Babcock was asked if the month before the Jan. 7 roster deadline for Sochi was important. Yzerman will meet with other members of the management team (Blues GM Doug Armstrong, Bruins GM Pete Chiarelli, Red Wings GM Ken Holland and Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman) this weekend.

"Everything weighs a lot," Babcock said. "You just watch. And in the end, you've got to pick the right team. Whoever has earned those opportunities is going to get them."

With such a vast and diverse talent pool, one thing Giroux has working against him is the center position he plays. Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Matt Duchene, John Tavares, Ryan Getzlaf, Bergeron and Thornton are just a few of the centers Yzerman has at his disposal. Giroux would need to play the wing.

"The reality is a lot of top Canadian players are centermen," Yzerman said. "We don't want to take 14 centermen. We want to have some natural wingers."

For his part, Giroux admitted Team Canada has been on his mind - even when he's tried not to think about it. He said he grew up dreaming about playing for Canada in the Olympics. Last night, though, Giroux said was just another game with Canada's top executives watching him closely.

"I think every game is important," Giroux said. "That's one thing I can't do, is starting thinking about that kind of stuff. I just need to go out there and play the game."

Flyers goaltending prospect Anthony Stolarz was selected yesterday to Team USA's entry in the upcoming World Junior Championships in Sweden. Stolarz, a second-round pick in the 2012 draft, has an OHL-best .929 save percentage for the London Knights this season.

Stolarz, 19, will battle Calgary draft pick and Providence College netminder Jon Gillies for minutes in the three exhibition games leading up to the tournament.

Russia added Flyers seventh- round pick Valeri Vasiliev to its entry. Vasiliev is playing for Moscow Spartak in the KHL. Stolarz and Vasiliev will join Canadians Scott Laughton and Taylor Leier as Flyers representatives in the world's top under-20 tournament.


On Twitter: @DNFlyers

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