Claude Giroux

I’ve written about slumps in the past, so I thought I’d update one of those given the mess Claude Giroux is in. (Originally ran in The Hockey News in 2009, reprinted here with permission.)

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Slumps are a bitch.

During the NHL’s last full season Claude Giroux tallied 93 points. He got the better of Sidney Crosby in a playoff series that made his coach call him “The best player in the world.” He’s on my pre-season Team Canada roster under a category called “The Definitely, Yeps.” The Flyers made him captain.

He now hasn’t scored in 20 games dating back to last season. Seven points in 14 games.

Did I mention slumps are a bitch?

It’s amazing how recognizing you’re in a goal drought makes the problem feed on itself. And unfortunately, no matter who you talk to, there’s no easy solution to your problem.

I went through stretches of legitimate success in college and pro hockey, tying together point streaks of double digit games on multiple occasions. As you may have guessed, I also went through prolonged stretches of great misery, tying together streaks of punching walls and pulling my hair out at the root for double-digit games…on multiple occasions.

The standard song and dance about slump breaking is, in my opinion, what prolongs them.

“Keep it simple. Shoot from everywhere.”

No.

Garbage.

Nothing twists the knife in your already-stabbed confidence like a goalie casually gloving down your shot from left field that you only took because technically, that spot by the boards at the blueline fell under the category of “everywhere.” If you’re a natural goal scorer, you likely didn’t get where you are because you were air-mailing in three pointers on talented goaltenders.

The only known antidote for the slump sickness, of course, is to work so hard Patrice Bergeron looks lazy. That’s not a fun reality, but hey, here we are.

It takes a couple games of driving the net, hovering around the goalie and generally playing violently in the crease before a shot from the point redirects off the bridge of your nose and goes in for you to get back to normal. And once that monkey’s off your shoulder pads it’s amazing how they start to go in.

As far as slumps go, a few games wouldn’t be a huge deal. The problem is there are stages of slump denial, which tend to add extra games to it before you realize you’re mired in one.

For starters, there’s the ‘Bad Luck’ phase:

“Ha, what a lucky save.”

“I can’t believe that hit both posts.”

“If another puck bounces over my stick around the net I’m going to sacrifice a goat to the hockey gods.”

The ‘Blame Placing’ phase is only a few steps behind. Sadly, some players never get out of this one. They’re convinced their whole career was on the same path as Sid the Kid had they not had this awful nine-year stretch of bad luck.

“My linemates are awful.”

“I’m not getting enough power play time.”

“This ice is horrific.”

As the sad, slumpy realization sinks in, superstition becomes the only friend to turn to.

You start taping your stick with white instead of black. You stop playing two-touch soccer with the boys before the game. You even write something different on the knob end of your stick, something usually along the lines of ‘WWJD.’

As the slump shovel hits bedrock, thoughts on the home front start to drift, potentially all the way into, “maybe I’m just not good enough” territory, highlighted by such classics as:

“I really should finish that degree.”

“I could probably work for my sister-in-law’s husband.”

And:

“#$%$ @#!$#ing &%@#!”

But just then, just as you’re about to patch the holes in your bedroom wall and hang up the skates a puck goes in. And not a two-on-one, fake-pass snapper off the post snipe-type goal.  Always some dumb, “I can’t believe it was that easy” freebie-type goal. But who cares.

And so the pendulum swings.

Claude Giroux is in a slump like I’ve never seen from someone with that much talent. You have to think at some point based on sheer odds he’d get a few great chances, and with his talent, put a couple in. You’d think, anyway. And as the slump drags on, the stick-squeezing begins (I’ve written about that concept before).

There’s just no easy way to get out of it, so I believe you’ve gotta keep doing what you’ve always done when you have the puck, and if given the choice between going to net and not without it, goddammit you get there. Giroux is one of the NHL’s top talents, and he’ll be alright. He’ll get his 20, he’ll make a push for Team Canada.

But in the meantime, I’m sure he’s doing plenty of damage to his knuckles and walls everywhere. He’s only a bounce from freedom, but he’ll feel like he’s in prison til it comes.

Comments (11)

  1. “What Would Jagr Do” is actually a very good saying for slumping goal scorers to think about.

    • Have you guys ever heard of a Slumpbuster? Maybe it’s not a hockey thing? In baseball it involves exchanging carnal pleasures with a member of the opposite sex who would not normally be described in terms such as “attractive” or “in possession of a healthy height – weight ratio”.

  2. “Claude Giroux is in a slump like I’ve never seen from someone with that much talent.”

    Yeah, I dunno. Claude Giroux is handsy and smart as a whip, but he’s also undersized, not the world’s greatest skater and prone to trying defenders in areas that send an odd-man the other way if he fails. And since he’s being singled out for pressure in those areas, he’s failing a lot.

    I doubt he scores between 0 and 3 goals this season, but my feeling was always that once teams started paying enough attention to him that they keyed on him in video sessions and attacked his weaknesses, he would dry up big-time at even strength.

    Thing about a guy like Eric Staal (to just pick a guy), he’s shown that he can produce at a certain level after everybody already knows everything he’s all about (which for him, was his second year). Everybody he plays knows what Staal is good at. Everybody he plays knows what Staal isn’t good at. Plan for him all you want, put him with any player in the league; he’s still good for north of 30 goals and 70 points.

    Giroux was something of an unknown quantity when he was (imo wrongly) being put in a class with the likes of Stamkos and the Sedins or even Staal. Teams didn’t really know what to do with him and defenders were tentative out of fear he’d make them look bad, which is the worst way to play him.

    That’s the biggest change I’ve seen in this guy’s game. Not nerves, not gripping the stick too tight, not struggling with the weight of the Captaincy–teams just started pitching him nothing but low sliders to the outside, so to speak. I don’t know if he’s got long enough arms to hit that pitch often enough to be an all-star going forward.

    Honestly, I half expect to wake up one day soon and hear he’s been traded for Subban.

    • I’m with you. To me Giroux is a good player, but not a great player. He had one outstanding season and was unfortunate enough to have his coach compare him to Crosby, putting boatloads of pressure on him.

      I think he’ll wind up settling into being a .75 points a game guy. He’ll have a good career, but he’s not the type of guy that can singlehandedly change lots of games or carry a team. I don’t see him reproducing his 93 point season.

      • The Flyers looked absolutely terrible last night. I was shocked at just how bad they looked. The Devils had a good game, but the Flyers looked like a minor league team. They couldn’t get into the zone without going offsides, couldn’t set up the powerplay, and just generally sucked (look at the giveaway for Jagr’s empty net goal). I knew they were bad, but I didn’t realize they were THAT bad. Giroux still doesn’t have a goal, Hartnell still doesn’t have an assist.

    • that’d be a great trade for philly, but Montreal never does it.

  3. Shades of Scott Gomez

  4. Leafs need a centre but you need to equate salaries for the cap. Phaneuf, Gardiner + a pick (2nd round?) for Giroux. Nothing cures a slump like a change of scenery. Discuss.

    • The Flyers aren’t scoring at all. I’m not sure that trading for D-men changes that for them…Plus I’d say that Toronto’s biggest weakness is their D, so I don’t really see this happening. Giroux is overrated, but better than he’s been playing. If he were to be traded, I would think it’d kickstart him a bit. I believe I heard an Eberle for Giroux rumor. I don’t know the validity of it, but I could see that being a potentially good move for both parties if the details are right.

  5. I’m not too sure he’s punching many walls there Justin. That golfing incident probably did enough damage to his hand as it is. Maybe it’s playing some lingering effect on his shot

  6. Mr. Giroux has anger issues! This is why

    I am a nurse at a large university based hospital system in New York city within the infectious diseases department. Claude Dari Giroux DOB 1/12/88 (yes the ice hockey professional) was a patient of our department for the last thirty two months. He left our clinic about seven months ago as he and the attending physician came to an impass and severely disagreed on one major point. He was referred to us for the treatment of HIV. At the time of his arrival it was noted in his chart that he did not want anyone to know about his disease. The physician accepted this as this is common with many of our patients and he was impressed by his celebrity status. I on the other hand do not follow sports and had no clue who he was. However, as time went on, he discussed having many, many sexual partners whom he did not notify that he was infected, nor did he take any precautions to reduce transmission, such as use of a condom. He refused to give any names of these partners as it would be our responsibility to notify them. Moreover, his profession involves occaional and at times frequent fluid transfer. None of these players are aware of his positive status.

    His most recent visit with us included review of a blood tests and H and P. He stated that he was feeling progressively more tired and was not able to perform up to his usual standard during games. His CD4 count had reduced and conversely his viral load had dramatically increased. His pattern of unprotected sexual intercourse had continued. The physician finally refused to continue taking care of him unless he agreed to notify all previous partners of his status. The patient disagreed. After a long discussion, Mr. Giroux left our office is great haste and did not return.

    My hope in writing this note is that the patient’s previous partners have testing and that further transmission is reduced. I am hopeful that we can make a difference.

    – A very concerned nurse

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