Flyers captain Claude Giroux has a word of advice for rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere when the two meet each other as opponents in this fall's World Cup of Hockey.
"The last few weeks, I told him to keep his head up," Giroux said Friday night on a conference call after both players were added to World Cup rosters.
"I'm pretty excited to go on the forecheck against him. It's pretty impressive what this kid has been able to do this year. To see it right beside him, he's got so much potential.
"To be on this team will only help him be better."
Giroux was named to Team Canada's roster, while Gostisbehere, the NHL's top rookie defenseman, was penciled in on Team North America (see story).
You may recall Giroux was overlooked by Team Canada for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
"That was a little disappointing," Giroux said. "Any time you have a chance to represent your country and go play for them, you hope to get the call. I was a little disappointed for that. To be able to be on this team, I'm excited and I"m ready for the challenge."
Team North America is a unique blend of age 23-and-under players who will compete in the eight-team tournament starting in mid-September.
Whether the veteran athletes competing for other countries take this young stars contingent seriously on the international stage is subject to debate.
"I hope some teams would take us seriously," Gostisbehere said, "because I think we're pretty darn good. It's a different dynamic.
“You don’t have the veteran presence per say, but some of the guys on the team have been playing in the NHL for three years already. It’s definitely going to be a fun experience.”
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was also named to the tournament, playing for Team Europe.
“I am really surprised and excited,” Bellemare said in a statement. “I am happy that the way I played with the Flyers has helped me get a chance to play in the World Cup for Team Europe. I think this is going to be a celebration of hockey and it is surreal that I get to be in the middle of it.”
Both Giroux and Gostisbehere have been rehabbing at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, since their hip and abdominal surgeries on May 17.
Bellemare will go into the tournament fully healthy, while Giroux and Gostisbehere will not. Giroux had reservations about undergoing surgery if it meant his exclusion from the tournament, sources said.
“The surgery was a little question mark,” Giroux said. “Maybe not so much for me, but for them. I don’t know what they were thinking. The rehab has gone very well right now. There’s no issue as to why I wouldn’t be ready for that tournament.”
Gostisbehere is no stranger to serious rehab from surgery. He missed nearly all of the 2014-15 season as a Phantom with a torn ACL in his left knee.
“It’s the same sort of rehab I did with my knee,” Gostisbehere said of his current rehab. “We’re going to keep going down the line knowing something is at the end of the line for us. We gotta really focus.”
The 23-year-old Gostisbehere, who is a finalist for the Calder Trophy, which will be announced in late June, said he was humbled by the selection.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” he said. “The whole format of the tournament is pretty cool to see. … It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The Flyers have eight players competing. Chicago has an NHL-high of 12.