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(Posted 7:30 a.m., April 24)
Former Cumberland Baron has record breaking performance in first round of playoffs
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Claude Giroux's assent to NHL stardom began on the rinks of Cumberland, when he played for the Cumberland Barons. File photo


It's a long way from the Ray Friel Centre to the Stanley Cup playoffs, but Claude Giroux has successfully made that journey in record-breaking style after leading the Philadelphia Flyers to a first round victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The former Cumberland Baron and one time Cumberland Grad set Flyers club record by scoring 14 points in the six game series. The previous record of 13 was held by former Flyer great Bill Barber

Almost half of Giroux's point total came in Game 2 when he scored three goals and three assists in an 8-5 win. The six point performance in a single playoff game is also a team record. But his performance in the series clinching game is what has hockey analysts referring to him as one of the best players in the world.

After demanding to put on the ice to start the game, the 24-year-old Giroux flattend Sidney Crosby and scored his team's first goal, all in the course of the opening 27 seconds. His performance earned high praise from Flyers' head coach Peter Laviolette.

"When the best player in the world comes up to you and says, 'I don't know who you're starting tonight, but I want that first shift,' that tells you everything you need to know about Claude Giroux," Laviolette said after the game.

Flyers' goalie Ilya Bryzgalov echoed Laviolette's comments.

"G is a very special player," Bryzgalov said. "There's not very many players like that in the world."

While most stories about Giroux mention the fact that he's from Hearst, Ontario, his rise to NHL stardom began when his family moved to Orléans in 2002.

Giroux was the leading scorer on the Barons Major Bantam AA and Minor Midget AA teams in 2002-2003 and 2003-2004, before joining the Cumberland Grads for the 2004-2005 season as a 16-year-old.

Despite missing several games due to mononucleosis, Giroux managed to score 40 points in 48 games and was named the CJHL's Rookie of the Year.

While having to deal with mononucleosis is never a good thing, it would alter Giroux's fate in more ways than even he could have ever imagined.

His limited point production relative to the rest of the league and his small stature at the time, led to him being overlooked during the 2005 OHL Priority Selection Draft.

But the OHL's loss was the Gatineau Olympiques' gain, when Olympique's owner Andre Chaput, who also owned the Gloucester Rangers at the time, invited Giroux for a tryout. The rest as they say is history.

Giroux scored 103 points in his first season and was named the QMJHL's rookie of the year. His prolific performance drew the attention of the NHL Scouting Bureau and the Flyers in particular who drafted him 22nd overall.

After scoring 112 points in his sophmore season, Giroux lead the Olympiques to the QMJHL championships in 2008 and was named the playoff MVP after setting a franchise record with 17 goals and 34 assists in 19 games.

Coming off his success in QMJHL playoffs, Giroux had a disappointing traning camp and was assigned to the Flyers' AHL affiliate where turned disappintment into success. After being named AHL player of the month in December, he was called up to the parent club on Dec. 27, 2008 and has remained with the Flyers ever since.

Giroux came into his own during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs and helped lead the Flyers to the finals where they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.

Flyer nation is hoping for a better result this time, and although the finals are a long way off, it's clear they will go as far as Giroux will take them. Should they win, Giroux will have a tough time deciding where to bring the Stanley Cup. Chances are he'll take it to his hometown in Hearst, but a side trip to Orleans and Gatineau would be nice as well. Only time will tell.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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