Giroux set to face the Flyers for the first time with the Senators

OTTAWA — Claude Giroux will face his former team for the first time when the Ottawa Senators host the Philadelphia Flyers at Canadian Tire Center on Saturday (7 pm ET; SN1, TVAS2, NBCSP, ESPN+, SN NOW).

“It’s definitely a little weird,” the 34-year-old forward said after the Senators morning skate Saturday. “I think it’s going to hit me a little harder tonight.”

Giroux, who signed a three-year, $19.5 million contract with Ottawa as a free agent on July 13, played his first 1,000 NHL games with Philadelphia, which selected him in the first round (No. 22) of the 2006 NHL Draft.

He spent his final 10 seasons with Flyers as captain before being traded to the Florida Panthers on March 19, 2022.

“I never thought I’d play for another team, to be honest, until my last year with Philly when everything kind of happened,” Giroux said. “Everything kind of happened fast, too.

“It’s just something that you never think of because you’ve been there for a long time. I really loved playing in front of those fans and wearing that jersey. I did it with a lot of pride. I never really thought of playing for another team. But here I am now.”

A native of Hearst, Ontario, Giroux has nine points (five goals, four assists) in 10 games this season and is one goal shy of 300 in the NHL.

Senators coach DJ Smith said Giroux has brought multiple unique elements to Ottawa that have been missing in years past.

“Face-offs, clearly,” Smith said. “Our face-offs, we’re in the top 10 in the League, or close to it (52.6 winning percentage, eighth in the NHL), and we were in the top five until the last little bit here, which is helping us with the puck. Leadership. But the biggest thing for me is that he’s still a student of the game. He wants to be pushed. You know, I’m pushing him, but I think he’s at the point where, you’re a veteran player and I think sometimes the coach will tend to leave the guy and let him do his thing. But I’ve pushed him really hard here, especially as of late, and he’s been appreciative of it. Really, I think he’s coachable. He’s been really coachable for me.”

The game in Ottawa will serve as a preview of what will surely be an unforgettable experience when Giroux returns to Philadelphia on Nov. 12. But as of Saturday morning, Giroux was just trying to keep the mood as light as possible.

“He looked pretty relaxed this morning,” Smith said. “He was in the [lounge] down there, and I think they put “The Office” on. It seems like it’s every time I go for a coffee. So, he was catching his third episode of “The Office” this morning. I don’t know, he looked pretty calm to me.”

Said Giroux: “We have to keep it loose a little bit, especially today. Michael Scott (the main character on “The Office” played by Steve Carell) makes me laugh.”

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