This isn’t going to help the captain’s popularity.
But then, captains aren’t made captain to win popularity contests with the unwashed masses.
They’re made captain to help the team win games.
Claude Giroux says those masses sometimes are so unwashed that they’re hurting his team.
Maybe Giroux’s stunning assertion at his end-of-season press conference Wednesday will change the way angry Flyers fans express themselves during games. Maybe pigs will fly.
The Flyers didn’t win any of their three home playoff games against the Penguins. They lost the series, four games to two. The Flyers were often booed. The Flyers are booed too often for Giroux’s liking. He believes that negative energy made the Flyers try too hard too often.
The question: “Was this crowd tough on you? Not just you, but the whole team. You guys are trying too hard to please them? Is that part of the equation?”
“Yeah. I think. … I do think so. I think when it’s not going very well, fans, they can get a little … start booing us and stuff. That’s when we try to do too much. On the road, we don’t really get that. We have our game plan at the start of the game, and we carry on for 60 minutes.
“I think sometimes — I’m not saying every game — but some games, at home, it wasn’t going our way. And sometimes it can happen like that. You can have a bad start. You can be down, 1- or 2-0. You [ideally would] keep going the same way you planned on playing the game. That wasn’t the case. We kind of changed our game. We tried to do a little too much. Trying to do somebody else’s job instead of going out there and playing the game.”
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) April 25, 2018
Is that why they were outscored at the Wells Fargo Center by 18-6? Is that why the Pens overmatched the Flyers in Games 3 and 4, then erased a 4-2 deficit with five consecutive goals in Game 6? Is that why the Flyers were 0-for-13 on the power play at home?
It didn’t help, said “G.” In fact, according to Giroux, the team was able to play with greater focus at the raucous PP&G Paints Center:
“On the road we had some big, big wins for us to be able to be in the position we [were]. At home, it wasn’t really the same result. Especially in the playoffs; we weren’t a very good home team in the playoffs. If you want to win in the playoffs, you have to be a good home team. You have to be a tough team to play at home.”
That admission might be honest, but the overall evaluation won’t be popular. If there’s one thing Philadelphia fans hate, it’s when athletes are not accountable. If there’s one thing Philly fans hate even more, it’s when athletes hold them accountable.
If you shoot when the fans yell “shoot”, you don’t have what it takes to play in the league.
— Eric J. Newby (@enewbs4) April 25, 2018
Fraud Giroux at it again
— Rob Volkman (@rob_volkman) April 25, 2018
Oh whew! So it wasn't the fact that he chokes in big spots
— BigMike McD (@eagleyez317) April 25, 2018
But again, Giroux’s responsibility is not to tell people what they want to hear. His responsibility is to honestly evaluate the team’s situation to help them win.
You can call them soft, or sensitive, or millennial, but if Giroux honestly believes the fans’ behavior during games is impeding the team’s ability to win, then it’s his responsibility to say so. For that matter, saying anything else would be dereliction of duty.
Don’t think he’s alone in his assertion. For him to say this, you have to assume it is a team-wide topic of discussion; on the buses, in the dressing room and, certainly, on the bench during games.
Sean Couturier straddled the issue.
“Maybe there’s some times where, I mean you’re on the power play and you hear ‘Shoot!’ for a minute-and-a-half; you’re not creating anything; it does get frustrating at times,” he said.
But Couturier also said, “There’s some nights they probably had the right to boo us. We were bad enough and we probably deserved it. … I don’t really think it had an effect on the results of our home record. I think we’re a tight group and we kind of shut it off.”
Clearly, not everybody shut it off.
Look — ideally, 18,000 simultaneous expressions of displeasure would inspire the Flyers to play harder and better. But maybe there’s a breaking point. Maybe there’s a critical mass that, when reached, is counterproductive to the crowd’s inspirational intention.
Giroux says that what often happens at the WFC isn’t helping them win, especially this season.
The Flyers went 22-13-6 there in the regular season, matching their fewest home wins in a non-lockout season since 2007-08, they were 21-14-6. These guys might be young and rich and famous, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t human.
Giroux’s comments will elicit howls from some of the same throats that produced the bruising boos that Giroux says make the players play tight. They won’t care that he’s a Hart Trophy finalist who collected 102 points despite moving from center to wing.
They’ll care much more that, in the past three years, Giroux has earned $27 million …. and has scored one playoff goal.