Claude Giroux is just 30 and is locked up until 2022, so the ‘C’ seems sure to remain on his sweater for at least the next four seasons. But when the time does come for a changing of the guard, there are those in the Philadelphia hockey community who believe 21-year-old Ivan Provorov is destined to take over that distinction.
Provorov spent this past summer resting up from a demanding season that saw him lead the Flyers in ice time for a second straight year while recovering from a Grade 3 AC separation (in which the collarbone is separated from the shoulder blade) sustained against Pittsburgh in the playoffs.
He took painkilling shots before the deciding Game 6 and played, despite barely being able to lift his arm. That continued his team-record streak of having never missed a game from the start of his career (164 regular-season and six playoff games).
How serious was the injury? Doctors said he would need eight weeks to recover. Such grit is noticed by his teammates and is a reason why so many think he’s already a leader. “I was watching him play, and I started laughing a little bit,” Giroux said. “The plays he does. Guys try to go 1-on-1 against him, and he just makes it look easy…He’s a leader. He does the right thing. He’s a professional, on and off the ice. At his age, you don’t see that too often. He doesn’t need an ‘A’ to be a leader. Logs a lot of minutes, plays in every situation, a true leader.”
Provorov was a captain in youth hockey back in Russia. He came over to Canada at 13 to learn the language, the culture and the smaller rinks. While he wasn’t a captain with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, he did a lot of leading by example.
Even though Provorov tied for the NHL lead in goals by a defenseman with 17 last season, he hasn’t earned a lot of respect outside Philadelphia. “You watch him play one game, you’re like, ‘This kid is pretty good,’ but if you watch every game, you go, ‘This kid is really good,’ ” Giroux said. “He does it every night. The things he does, the little details. People who really watch the game and see what’s going on, if you look at him for a full game, you say, ‘This guy’s always in good position.’ ”
Provorov wants to be a little more vocal in the dressing room this season. “Last year was so much easier coming in and already knowing everybody,” he said. “I started talking a little bit but not too much. This year I’m going to take a step forward in that department as well.”
When an ‘A’ eventually appears his jersey, he said he'll embrace the role. “It would be an honor,” Provorov said. “For me, I’m going to try and lead on and off the ice, whether you have an ‘A’ or you don’t. Hopefully, one day I’ll take that step.”
This story appears in the Prospects Unlimited 2018 issue of The Hockey News magazine.