LAS VEGAS – Claude Giroux woke up to a text message Monday morning. It was friend and teammate Scott Hartnell, telling him they were now friends and former teammates.
Giroux didn’t believe Hartnell, so he started chirping him. Then he found out it was true: The Philadelphia Flyers had traded Hartnell to the Columbus Blue Jackets for R.J. Umberger and a fourth-round pick.
“It’s sad,” Giroux said. “It’s not a fun day.”
Not a fun day, said a guy who was in Las Vegas for the NHL Awards as a finalist for the Hart Trophy, which goes to the league’s most valuable player.
“It’s shocking,” Giroux said. “But it’s the business side of it, and you’ve got to move on. You can’t stop and start thinking about it too much. Everything happens for a reason. It could be good for him.”
Hartnell loved Philly. He was one year into a six-year, $28.5-million contract extension he signed with the Flyers, and he had a no-movement clause.
Both Hartnell and Umberger are 32. Both have about the same cap hit – Hartnell $4.75 million, Umberger $4.6 million. Both scored about the same number of goals last season – Hartnell 20, Umberger 18 – but Hartnell has produced far more than Umberger historically.
Hartnell has two more years left on his contract, and Umberger can do more things, like play center and kill penalties. But Umberger was a healthy scratch down the stretch in 2013-14 and asked the Jackets for a trade. He was a candidate to be bought out.
“I personally didn’t see it coming,” Giroux said. “I heard a lot of rumors and stuff, but I just didn’t believe it. I mean, [Hartnell is] a good guy. He’s one of the best teammates I ever had. It’s a sad day. …
“He was almost the face of the Flyers. He was a fan favorite. Everywhere he went, he loved the city. I’m sure it’s a tough day for him to kind of put that behind him, but Columbus is going to be a good opportunity for him.”
Asked why Hartnell did fit in Philly anymore, Giroux said: “He’s the worst guy.”
He was being sarcastic.
“No, I don’t know,” he continued. “Like I said, he’s a heart-and-soul kind of guy. You want him on your team. You hate playing against him. Like I said, Columbus is going to be a great fit for him. I don’t know. I don’t know what to say.
“A little shocked.”