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Prankster Giroux Nothing to Laugh at for Phantoms

Monday, 12.01.2008 / 3:20 PM / News
By Lindsay Kramer |
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Prankster Giroux Nothing to Laugh at for Phantoms
Flyers prospect Claude Giroux is known for two things -- his on-ice ability and off-ice sense of humor.

With a population of about 6,000, very few secrets last long in the northern outpost of Hearst, Ontario.

Say, for instance, you woke up one morning and found a chunk of peanut butter on your windshield. Chances are you'd find out pretty quickly who did it.

But just in case you never had the right connections to crack that code, the culprit was probably local prankster Raymond Giroux.

''I don't think they were too happy,'' said Raymond's son, Claude. ''But he was just trying to get them back. They probably pulled a prank on him.''

There isn't a whole lot to do in Hearst, as Claude readily admits. You either hunt or play hockey, he said. And laugh, too. Residents apparently do that a lot, as well.

Claude has taken the best of those latter two activities and combined them to burst from virtually nowhere to a promising pro career.

''He's a guy you have to stay on your toes when he's around,'' said roommate Michael Ratchuk, a defenseman. ''He gets his jokes in when he can.''

When pressed for an example, Giroux hides behind the defense of what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room. But that's a long ways from a not guilty plea.

''There's a time to be serious, but I try to be loose,'' he said. ''I don't really try to be funny. I just like to have fun, mess around. It just gets me on my game. I play better when I have fun.''

If only some Ontario Hockey League team had realized how Giroux's zest translates to productivity on the stat sheet, he might have dominated that league instead of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Like most pro hockey players, Giroux couldn't be kept off the frozen pond as a youngster. Unlike most players, though, Giroux grew up just a long wrist shot away from where Santa Claus lives, so braving the elements takes on a whole new meaning in Hearst. School would be canceled there just out of sheer, brutal cold. Those were the types of days when Giroux and his buddies laced 'em up.

''We'd put a lot of clothes on," he said. "We didn't go too long. We tried quick shifts, I guess.''

Hearty dedication doesn't count for everything when it comes to hockey's intersection of sport and business. Giroux never landed on the OHL's radar and was snubbed in his draft year for that league. So he tried out for Gatineau of the QMJHL and made that team instead.

''When I went to Gatineau, I tried to stay positive,'' Giroux said. ''I just went there to have fun, be happy I was playing at a high level. I didn't think I was that good.''

Giroux contradicted himself with an outburst of 103 points in 69 games as a rookie in 2005-06. That caught the Flyers' eyes, and the team took him No. 22 in the 2006 Entry Draft.

Giroux soared from there, putting up 112 points two seasons ago and 106 last season. He captained the Olympiques in 2007-08, taking the team to the QMJHL championship and earning the QMJHL playoff MVP award after scoring a staggering 51 points in 19 postseason games.

''I think everything was just lucky bounces everywhere,'' Giroux said. ''I had a lot of chances.''

Giroux's ''luck'' must have wheels because it's followed him to the Phantoms. He scored the game-winner in the team's first contest and later ran off a seven-game points streak.

''There's things you can teach players growing up," said Ratchuk. "The things he does, you can't teach. "He'll come back to the bench and you'll think, 'How did he do that stuff?' He makes people around him better.''

Though it wasn't in the original plan, Philadelphia has squeezed him for every drop of talent. A torrent of injuries and call-ups left the Phantoms short up front, and that's meant coach John Paddock has pushed him onto the ice for about 25 minutes a game. Paddock had hoped to keep that to around 19-20, but Giroux just can’t be spared on the power play or penalty kill.
There's a time to be serious, but I try to be loose. I don't really try to be funny. I just like to have fun, mess around." - Claude Giroux

''He's a real creative guy," said Paddock. "He's a real smart player with the puck, without the puck. There aren't really any issues with him on the defensive side. He doesn't make me nervous in any way on the ice. After the season, he'll adapt to do whatever he has to do to reach the NHL.''

Maybe all of Giroux's laughing is a way to help distract him from how gassed he is.

''Well, when you play three games in three nights, you get tired,'' he said. ''But they give you a lot of rest, eat good, you do little things like that, you are ready for the games.''

Being alert is important when you tempt revenge by wearing the joker's hat. Ratchuk promised the crowd in the room has payback on its mind, but he just can't pinpoint what it might be.

''Oh yeah, I've been trying to think of a way,'' he said. ''But he's pretty good at knowing what's going on around him, so he's going to be hard to get.''

After years of sizing up his targets, Giroux knows better than to underestimate them.

''We're having a lot of fun this year,'' he said. ''I just hope they do something legal.''

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 82 28 58 7 86
J. Voracek 82 23 39 11 62
W. Simmonds 82 29 31 -4 60
S. Hartnell 78 20 32 11 52
M. Streit 82 10 34 3 44
B. Schenn 82 20 21 0 41
M. Read 75 22 18 -4 40
S. Couturier 82 13 26 1 39
V. Lecavalier 69 20 17 -16 37
K. Timonen 77 6 29 5 35
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 33 18 7 .917 2.50
R. Emery 9 12 2 .903 2.96
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