It wasn't that long ago Claude Giroux was known as the guy whose name the Flyers forgot.
With the number of unforgettable performances Giroux has turned in since then, it's hard to imagine his name slipping anyone's mind now.
In just his second full NHL season, Giroux skated in his first NHL All-Star game, led the Flyers -- the team with the deepest roster of forwards in the League -- in scoring, and was voted the team MVP.
That comes on the heels of his breakout postseason performance last spring, when he had 21 points in 23 games.
It's a rapid ascent after Giroux went undrafted as a junior-hockey player coming out of Hearst, Ont., and started his career by walking on with the Gatineau Olympiques in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
He went from unwanted to most wanted in short order. He had 39 goals and 106 points in his first season with Gatineau in 2005-06. When it came time for the Flyers to make the 22nd pick of the 2006 Entry Draft, however, then-GM Bob Clarke famously forgot Giroux's name for a moment.
"I didn't really care," Giroux said last spring when asked about Clarke's blunder. "I thought it was pretty funny."
Giroux was even better the next season in Gatineau, finishing with 48 goals and 112 points, and then had 38 goals and 106 points in 2007-08.
He started the next season in the American Hockey League with the Philadelphia Phantoms, but after he had 17 goals and 34 points in 33 games, he moved into the NHL lineup for the second half of the 2007-08 season. He had 9 goals and 27 points in 42 games, but it was in the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs that he became a name worth remembering. He had 5 points in six games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, tying for the team scoring lead.
Last season he had 16 goals and 47 points while playing all 82 games, then had his marvelous playoff run.
It's made him a player the Flyers will lean on heavily when the playoffs start next week.
"Claude is certainly a guy that wants the ball," current GM Paul Holmgren said. "He wants to have the puck in key situations, and I don't see that changing. I think even two playoffs ago it started for us when we got beat in the first round against Pittsburgh and Claude played exceptionally well in that series, too. We certainly don't consider him a young player in terms of what he brings to the hockey team. He's more one of our guys that we expect to play well and provide offense and also play a good game away from the puck."
Giroux admits he's still learning about NHL playoff life. However, he took a lot from all the ups and downs of last season's run.
"I think it's important that you just stay focused and you play the same game you were playing during the season," he said. "I don't think it's necessary to change your game. With the experience that we had last year, our guys are going to know what to expect, and they can relate to the experience we had last year."
Holmgren said he's seen the right kind of growth in Giroux this season.
"Claude is a young player that gets it," he said. "He's tremendously fit. He works hard in the summer to be as strong as he can possibly be, and he follows a very strict physical regimen during the season which keeps him in top shape, and obviously he works very hard on the ice. He's one of … in my opinion, one of the top young players in our game."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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