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Giroux headlines Flyers' award winners

As today marks the final day of the Flyers’ 2010-11 regular season, there is some annual hardware to be handed out tonight at tonight’s game against the Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center.

Giroux headlines Flyers' award winners

Claude Giroux will be presented with the Bobby Clarke Trophy for the Flyers´ MVP at tonight´s game. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Claude Giroux will be presented with the Bobby Clarke Trophy for the Flyers' MVP at tonight's game. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

As today marks the final day of the Flyers’ 2010-11 regular season, there is some annual hardware to be handed out tonight at tonight’s game against the Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center.

Here’s what you will see:

BOBBY CLARKE TROPHY
Awarded to the Flyers’ most valuable player: Claude Giroux
Last year’s winner: Chris Pronger
Voted by: Panel of sportswriters and sportscasters

There was little doubt that Giroux, 23, who led the Flyers in points this season, was the Flyers’ most valuable player during the regular season. In fact, Giroux nabbed the first place vote on 5 out of 8 ballots. Night in and night out, Giroux was one of the Flyers’ most consistent players, picking up during the regular season right where he left off in the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs. He is one of just 4 players to play in all 81 of the Flyers’ games. Giroux is just one month older than Mike Richards when he won the Bobby Clarke Trophy in 2008.

BARRY ASHBEE TROPHY
Awarded to the Flyers’ best defenseman: Andrej Meszaros
Last year’s winner: Chris Pronger
Voted by: Panel of sportswriters and sportscasters

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With marquee names such as Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen on the ballot, and steady defenders like Matt Carle and Braydon Coburn also eligible, some may see it as a surprise that Meszaros was named the Flyers’ best defenseman. With Pronger’s name etched on the trophy from last season, this is the second year in a row that a Flyers newcomer has won the award. Meszaros was acquired in a July 1 trade with Tampa Bay in exchange for a 2nd round pick as part of a salary dump for Lightning GM Steve Yzerman. Meszaros, in turn, has put together his best season since 2008 and added bite to the Flyers’ blue line with his physical edge and puck-moving capabilities. He has also been a clutch player, scoring two game-winning overtime goals this season.

PELLE LINDBERGH MEMORIAL TROPHY
Awarded to the Flyers’ most improved player: Andreas Nodl
Last year’s winner: Matt Carle
Voted by: the Flyers’ players

There were numerous candidates for the Flyers’ most improved player award, though just a few players fit the entire description of the award, since some were not here last season. Sergei Bobrovsky was one of those that came to mind, having arrived just in September. James van Riemsdyk bounced back to have a strong second half of the season. And Claude Giroux has seen a nearly 30 point increase from last year. But Nodl, who posted just 5 points in his first 48 career NHL games, became one of the Flyers’ 10 double digit goal scorers in 67 games this season while providing energy and promoting defensive responsibility. Nodl, 24, earned the respect of coach Peter Laviolette despite a rocky start to the season when he was a healthy scratch in 8 of the Flyers’ first 13 games.

YANICK DUPRE CLASS GUY MEMORIAL AWARD
Awarded to the Flyer who best illustrates “character, dignity and respect for hockey both on and off the ice” goes to: Brian Boucher
Last year’s winner: Ian Laperriere
Voted by: Panel of sportswriters and sportscasters

In the 5 seasons goaltender Brian Boucher has spent in a Flyers’ uniform, it’s a wonder this is the first time he has won the Class Guy award, named in honor of Yanick Dupre, a former Flyer who passed away after a battle with leukemia at the age of 24 on Aug. 16, 1997. He’s had some stiff competition, as the award was previously won by Danny Briere, Marty Biron and Mike Knuble. No player can win the award twice. The award used to be given to the player with the “best rapport with the media,” though you will be hard pressed to find a player in the Flyers’ locker room more down to Earth than Boucher. He is the ultimate team player and cheerleader, despite the fact that he has been dealt a bad hand on countless occasions during his career. No matter, Boucher keeps moving. And winning. He posted a 17-10-4 record for the Flyers this season with a .914 save percentage and 2.45 goals against-average.

“Some days are better than others, as far as this job,” Boucher said. “Somedays, I’m probably a sore sport. But I try to do my best to do the right thing and just do my job. It’s awful nice to be voted in for something like that.

“I think I’ve grown [since I first got here]. When you’re young, it’s tough to put things in perspective. You can be self-absorbed and it’s hard to look at the big picture. As you get older, and you’ve been through adversity and you realize you’ve gotten through to the other side, you realize that it’s not all that bad. I just try and come in every day and be as positive as I can and support my teammates. I try and keep them loose when I can and try and be a good guy like that.

“It’s a tough game. If you can be a positive influence on people and make them smile and make them laugh, at a time if they’re maybe stressed out, that’s a good thing.

“This is sports, we have a short period of time in this game. The media [is not personal]. It’s important to be honest and be up front, too. You can’t just show up [to speak] when you win. You’ve got to be a man and stand up and answer questions when it’s tough, too. I think in the end, people will respect that. That’s the way I see it. In a town like this, I think that goes a long way. People here are hard working people. Sometimes they just want an answer, even if it’s ‘I don’t know.’ ”

Boucher, 34, will become a free agent on July 1. He doesn’t even need to say where he wants to play, though he will be a valuable commodity as an affordable but reliable goaltender.

“I enjoy being here, I think that goes without saying,” Boucher said. “We’ll see. If I leave again, I don’t want to have to make it a fourth return [to the Flyers]. Would that be a record?”

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Frequent Flyers is your home for news and analysis of all things orange and black. Reach Frank at seravaf@phillynews.com.

Frank Seravalli Daily News Sports Columnist
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