Ottawa Senators Report Cards: Claude Giroux

The Sens' Godfather is up next

Ottawa Senators Report Cards: Claude Giroux
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With all the negativity surrounding the Ottawa Senators for the last seven years, it's sometimes easy to forget that there has also been some real bright spots. Claude Giroux coming to Ottawa (willingly) is very near the top of that list of positives.

When Giroux signed in Ottawa, there was some thought that he might be past his prime and that his effectiveness might not be what it once was. That ended up being the farthest thing from the truth. We'll get into some of his stats later but I want to start with maybe the biggest asset he brings to the team: leadership.

The word gets thrown around so often that it's a lot of its meaning, but these days it's generally accepted that leadership in pro hockey largely stems from being a vocal leader in the dressing room. The truth is that leadership isn't simply being the first to talk to a ref or having the inspirational speeches in between periods. Every team needs that one player who can literally change the pace of the game or who can make those around him better just by simply being better – and demanding it of his teammates. Players like Brady Tkachuk and Tim Stützle definitely posses these skills but not the experience or consistency. Giroux has never been anything but fully committed to the cause.

Giroux came to Ottawa to end his career on a high note in his hometown. It was obvious from Day 1 that he wasn't here just to ease into retirement. He was a man on a mission on a team that lacked the structure, confidence or luck to match his determination. Still, he embraced the role of fatherly mentor, and his impact was evident on the younger kids even more than directly on the ice. How well did he impact the team? Here's just a sample of some the players who benefitted directly from Giroux's presence.

Giroux's best season prior to joining the Sens saw him scoring 34 goals in the 2017/2018. In the his first season with Ottawa, he scored 35 goals. Although his recent season showed a slight decrease in output, tallying 21 goals and 43 assists, it was far from underwhelming. At 36-year old, the expected role for Giroux was to come in as a mentor so notching 64 points in the process is a welcome surprise.

So while the fears of an imminent decrease in Giroux's production have proven to be unfounded, it must be noted that he does appear to have lost maybe half a step. In a way, that makes his impact even that much more impressive: ever a student of the game, Giroux made up for his slowing by just always being in the right place.

Giroux's numbers the past two seasons are impressive enough when looking at them as they are, however, when you consider the quality of the team you have to appreciate the effort to put up these numbers – and especially the fact that, for somewhat mystifying reasons, Giroux has not spent much time on the team's top power play unit.

The thing missing from the Ottawa Senators, this season in particular, was consistency. This is why Giroux has been such a vital part of the team. It's very rare that he had a terrible night, and even when he's not producing, you know he's having an impact. But he is far from a predictable player, and it's little moves like this shootout goal that will always give the Sens an edge when he's on the ice.

We also can't talk about Claude Giroux without mentioning Gavin Giroux. The little man who has stolen so many hearts in Ottawa. With little gems like that from Gavin, Sens fans at least had something to cheer for.

Giroux came to Ottawa in the hopes he'd be joining a young team on the rise. The Sens team are a young team for sure, on the rise? They're more taking the sourdough approach on that one. Has he delivered the past two seasons? Absolutely! But at 36 years old with one year left on his contract, where does this leave the team? Giroux brings stability, he brings an edge to the team and he brings a loyal connection to the city. But he's competitive and he wants to win, he left Florida for a chance to bring his hometown team to life. With two years of his contract down and no real success to show for it, is he happy enough to endure a third?

I don't think there are any indications that Giroux would leave soon, but we should hope that he remains past this season. He most certainly has the skills and motivation to keep playing and his health has not really been a huge concern. Is Claude the same player from 5-6 years ago? Surely he isn't but is he playing like a veteran ready to retire? Absolutely not. He had another strong campaign, and there's no reason to believe he can't be a strong contributor to the team's top six again next year.

Giroux signed in Ottawa on his own accord because he believed something special could come out of this team, and he proved to this team and the entire league that he was not done. Giroux has been fairly consistent throughout his career, can he continue his impact next season and possibly beyond? Will we see Play-Off Giroux in a Sens uniform?

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