Passed over the Olympics again, Giroux focuses on the Flyers

Posted: February 07, 2014

EVEN AFTER Steven Stamkos announced Wednesday that his valiant attempt to rehab his fractured tibia in time for the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi had failed, Claude Giroux tried not to pay attention.

Giroux was on the short list of replacement candidates for Team Canada, but Giroux had a feeling that Hockey Canada general manager Steve Yzerman could not say no to his own deserving player on the Lightning, Martin St. Louis, for a third time and still maintain any sort of relationship.

"I didn't give myself hope," Giroux said. "I didn't want to be disappointed again."

Yet it still stung yesterday afternoon when Hockey Canada officially announced St. Louis would replace his Tampa Bay teammate. The announcement came just after the Flyers wrapped up their morning skate at Wells Fargo Center.

"Yeah. I'm just focused with tonight's game," Giroux said. "Good for Marty to be able to go to the Olympics."

Giroux' teammates and closest friends, though, said they could tell getting passed over for Canada's toughest roster a second time in fewer than 30 days hurt just as much as it did on Jan. 7, when Giroux came close to tears in a news conference.

"We went out to lunch at our normal pregame spot, but I think you could tell he was a little quiet," Scott Hartnell said on Comcast SportsNet's "Philly Sports Talk" yesterday. "We all know how much he wanted to go. If he plays anything like he did last time he was passed over, I think we'd all be OK with that. He played like a beast."

Without Giroux, Team Canada's bid for back-to-back gold medals could be doomed. Since the NHL began sending players to the Olympics at Nagano in 1998, no country has won a gold medal without an active Flyer on the roster: Petr Svoboda (Czech Republic, 1998); Simon Gagne (Canada, 2002); Peter Forsberg (Sweden, 2006); Mike Richards and Chris Pronger (Canada, 2010).

Like Giroux, St. Louis was a worthy candidate for Team Canada. Giroux (17) entered last night with one more point than St. Louis (16) since the Jan. 7 announcement. Since Dec. 17, no player entered last night with more points in the NHL than Giroux (30).

Then again, St. Louis had the most points (310) in the NHL since the end of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, entering last night. He was left off that gold-medal squad, also picked by Yzerman, after representing Canada in the last Olympics played overseas - in Torino, Italy, in 2006.

"It's really remixing the team and the lineup and then looking at the best possible player for that spot," Team Canada assistant Ralph Krueger told reporters in Sochi yesterday. "There's no bad player left on the long list, and there's no bad player on the team. They're all excellent players - it's just, what strengths do we need the most?"

Canada passed up on the size that former Olympians Eric Staal or Joe Thornton might offer.

In some ways, though, St. Louis' selection almost feels as if a wrong has been righted. St. Louis said yesterday he harbors no hard feelings, even though it took three different chances to get it right.

Even being selected doesn't guarantee St. Louis, 38, a spot in the lineup. Canada has 22 skaters and can dress only 20 in a game.

"As upset as you can be sometimes, it's hard to turn down this opportunity," St. Louis told reporters in Tampa Bay. "You've got to realize you only get a few kicks at the can. You've got to put the emotion aside and realize the experience and opportunity."

With his childhood dreams crushed for a second time in a month, the only silver lining for Giroux now is that he can use his principal role on the Flyers - as team captain - to make sure his teammates are in top shape coming out of the 16-day Olympic break later this month.

The Flyers promoted Shawn Tilger from senior vice president of business operations to chief operating officer of business operations yesterday.

On Wednesday, Comcast-Spectacor promoted John Page with a similar jump to president of Global-Spectrum, Spectacor's arena management subsidiary.

Both moves are the product of the increased roles that Tilger and Page, who serve under Comcast-Spectacor president Dave Scott, have taken on since the sudden departure of COO Peter Luukko on Dec. 2. Tilger will also serve as the Flyers' alternate governor on the NHL's Board of Governors, under chairman Ed Snider.

"Under Shawn's leadership and tenacity, the Flyers continue to be one of the top franchises in the National Hockey League," Snider said. "He continues to surprise us all with his creativity and dedication to our team. He is truly deserving of this promotion."

On Twitter: @DNFlyers


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