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Flyers' Giroux talks new coach, World Cup, Briere

by Tim Wharnsby

TORONTO -- Claude Giroux had an eventful offseason.

The day after the Philadelphia Flyers captain had a goal and an assist in Canada's 6-1 victory against Russia in the gold-medal game at the 2015 IIHF World Championship, he learned the Flyers had hired 47-year-old Dave Hakstol as their new coach.

Later in the summer, his good friend and former teammate Daniel Briere announced his retirement.

Entering his eighth season with the Flyers, the 27-year-old Giroux was among a group of elite NHL players at the League's annual Player Media Tour on Wednesday.

Giroux spoke with about the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, the Flyers, Briere and more in the following Q&A:

When the Flyers announced Dave Hakstol as their new coach, was there name recognition right away?

"I had no idea who he was. So right away I had to do some searching on the Internet. I talked with [general manager] Ron Hextall about him. Then [Hakstol] came to Ottawa to meet with me.

"After I met him I was really excited and pumped to get the season started because of the way he sees the game and how humble he is. Most coaches would come into the NHL and say they know it all. But he told me that, "I’m going to learn, too, and that we going to be in this together." He wants this to be a team with everybody working together and on the same page. That's what you want."

As captain, what's the next step in the process with the new coach?

"After this I'm going to back to Philadelphia and we're going to have a series of meetings about what kind of team we want, what are we going to do to win a lot of games."

When you don't make the Stanley Cup Playoffs there is disappointment. But with a new coach, what is your outlook on this season?

"Anytime you don't make the playoffs your summer is a little longer and you have a chip on your shoulder. The guys are aiming for the playoffs and maybe a longer run. We know it won't be easy and we have a lot of work to do, but we have a young team with a lot of energy and we’re willing to work hard."

You had the disappointment of not playing for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Now you have a chance to rectify that and play for Canada at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. What is your mindset about the possibility entering the season?

"I take a lot of pride in playing for Team Canada. It's something you always dream about when you're a kid. The best way for me to make the team is to play my best hockey this year and have fun."

After not making the Olympic team you finished the season strong with 16 goals and 48 points in 40 games after roster was announced, and you were a Hart Trophy nominee. But how long did that disappointment stay with you?

"It's something that I still have in the back of my mind. It was disappointing and something I have to live with. But hopefully I will have a chance to play for the World Cup team."

Do you do anything different in your offseason training?

"I've been working with the same guy, Tony Greco, in Ottawa for the last 10 years. Every summer we look for ways to get more speed and more power in my game. I think the game is headed that way so we're trying to focus on that."

What was your reaction when you were told that Daniel Briere at age 37 was going to retire last month?

"I think Danny could have played a couple more years. But he has three boys and he wants to spend more time with them. Danny is one of the smartest guys I know and he'll have a good career off the ice, also.

"In my second year I was able to go live at his place with him and his three boys. I saw the way he acted off the ice, how professional he is and what he brought on the ice."

His NHL career did not come easy. You were undrafted in junior. What sort of an inspiration did he play in your path to the NHL?

"He had to work really hard in the [American Hockey League], but when he was given a chance in Buffalo he made the most of it. At the time, for a guy his size, it was pretty impressive. He always found a way to get to open ice. He's a guy who elevated his game in the playoffs. He was so clutch."

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