Golf season is over.
Thankfully for the Flyers, the clubs are now packed away and Claude Giroux was back on the ice with his teammates on Thursday for the first official day of training camp.
It also marked Giroux’s first full practice since tearing through four tendons in his right hand on Aug. 15 in Ottawa. Skating alongside linemate Jake Voracek among a group of 19 other players, Giroux did not appear out of place.
Giroux caught and dished passes on Thursday at a normal rate of speed. He has not been cleared to shoot yet. Instead, Giroux simply passed the puck to goaltenders when entering the zone.
“I wasn’t too sure what I would be able to do, but I was feeling good,” Giroux said. “I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to touch the puck. I didn’t really have a gameplan.”
Previously, Giroux skated with teammates in informal “captains practices” last week in Voorhees, N.J., but didn’t participate in puck-moving drills. Thursday was a step in the right direction.
His goal is to test his surgically repaired hand in a preseason game or two before the regular season opens on Oct. 2. Giroux last played a competitive game in May at the World Championships in Sweden and Finland.
“I don’t want to force it too much,” Giroux said. “I think having a preseason game would be good. I haven’t played in a while. Even those flow drills that we were doing was good to try and get some of the game shape back. I hope I’ll be able to keep going with the process as the pace keeps going. It was fun to be back on the ice.”
CLEARY GONE: The Flyers were expecting free agent forward Dan Cleary to skate among a group of players at 8:30 am on Thursday. That never happened, since Cleary was back in Michigan, where he signed a one-year deal to remain with the Red Wings.
Cleary, 34, initially accepted an invitation to join the Flyers in camp on a tryout contract. Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren was initially in the dark about Cleary’s absence from training camp, but said he had no hard feelings.
“We had a couple conversations leading up to camp, and I knew that’s where he wanted to be,” Holmgren said. “He spent eight years there and he was hoping to continue his ride with the Red Wings. Good for him. He’s a loyal guy, a character guy. He obviously has deep roots with the Red Wings. I actually think more highly of him now than I did a couple days ago.”
Holmgren said he is “anxious to look at a few guys” in the spot Cleary was going to take on the roster. Holmgren also denied the multiple reports saying the Flyers offered Cleary a three-year, $8.25 million deal. Cleary ended up signing in Detroit for $1.75 million - a full million less than he would have made, according to reports.
Scott Laughton is considered the front-runner for Cleary’s left wing spot, with frequent call-up Tye McGinn a close second. Free agent signee Michael Raffl could make some noise in camp, attempting to make the jump from Sweden’s second league to the NHL.
Holmgren also said it was unlikely the Flyers would contact Simon Gagne to compete in camp.
“I think we kind of closed that off a few days ago when we decided to bring in Danny,” Holmgren said.
QUICK HITS: Here are a few odds and ends from the first day of training camp:
* Free agent defenseman Hal Gill looked solid in the first group of skaters. Gill, 38, is enormous at 6-foot-7 and he looks surprisingly trim and in-shape for his size. He often skated with Kimmo Timonen in drills.
* Chris Pronger was at training camp on Thursday. Pronger is still on the active roster, since his contract doesn’t expire until 2017, but he won’t be participating in any off-ice activities. Pronger spoke about the juggling act required, since he still an active, dues-paying member of the NHLPA, of handling off-ice scouting chores for the Flyers. Clearly, the Flyers want to get something from Pronger for the $7 million they are still paying him this season, but he is also technically still a player.
* Defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon was kept off the ice. He’s been suffering from concussion symptoms since last November and is still not cleared to play. Bourdon is on a guaranteed, one-way NHL contract this season.
* Defenseman Mark Alt, whom many were looking forward to seeing play in camp, is still being tested for the concussion he suffered in Monday’s rookie game against Washington. Alt, a Univ. of Minnesota product, is intriguing to scouts for his “NHL-ready” body.
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers
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