The Philadelphia Flyers will remember this past season as the year that Claude Giroux became a superstar. Flyers fans like myself were disappointed that Giroux couldn't lead them to a Stanley Cup, yet the hope is that he will have several shots to try again. He certainly made the NHL take notice that he might be around for a while - and EA Sports also took notice by making him the star of their new NHL 13 video game.
Giroux was officially put on the cover on June 20 after winning an online poll against the Nashville Predators' Pekka Rinne. Although he only won by one percent, he will be the face of EA Sports NHL 13 when it is released in September 2012. Hopefully it won't be the only hockey he plays in 2012, pending a potential lockout - and hopefully this cover isn't as cursed as the Madden cover.
The NFL has been plagued by the Madden Curse for years, as everyone who headlines EA Sports' Madden game goes on to have a horrific season afterwards. The likes of Peyton Hillis, Troy Polomalu, Brett Favre, Vince Young, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick - and even Drew Brees in the long term - have been victims of this phenomenon.
But there is no record of such a curse hitting those who headline video games in the NHL - or at least the Flyers and Giroux need to hope there isn't. Of course, the best way to really prove it is for Giroux to lead the way towards a Stanley Cup this time. A failure to do so might not prove he was cursed by EA Sports, yet if he's hurt or damaged for the long term next season, it would be easy to look for scapegoats.
Giroux did suffer a concussion last year, so his long term health would easily come into question with another hard hit. The Pittsburgh Penguins can attest to how damaging concussions can be for superstars, thanks to Sidney Crosby's last few seasons. The Flyers certainly don't want Giroux to suffer the same fate - although getting a ring just like Crosby did would be nice.
When the action resumes in the real life NHL, the video game version will not be a factor - just like video games weren't really to blame for all those football players getting 'cursed.' However, being the cover boy of EA Sports NHL 13 further proves that Giroux has entered the A-list of the league - and will be targeted as such.
After such a spectacular performance last season and in parts of the postseason, can Giroux actually go a step further next year, or has he already peaked? Getting on this cover does help set the bar higher for him to do better in 2012-13 - so hopefully both he and the Flyers are up to the task.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.
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