Giroux Gives Back in Style
By Michael McHugh, Junior Reporter
At a time when some professional athletes make headlines for all the wrong reasons, Ray Giroux is doing something right.
Not only does he entertain the fans with his skill and hockey smarts, he shows he has heart too.
Giroux gives his time off the ice to make community appearances at hospitals, childrens centers and to those needing a helping hand. He and teammate Todd Reirden have teamed up to bring local youth to every Aeros game by donating tickets to the games. The group, nicknamed Ray and Reirdens Rooters, can be heard screaming and cheering for their favorite players while wearing their bright colored t-shirts. You cant miss them! After the games, the kids get to visit the guys by the locker room where they get autographs and pictures taken. Their excitement fills the hallways of Toyota Center while they wait for their hosts to arrive when the game is over. Regardless of the outcome of the game, Giroux and Reirden put on their smiles and make someones day.
Giroux is in his seventh season as a hockey pro, his first as an Aero.
His journey began on the outdoor rinks of northern Ontario when he was four years old. Growing up, he and his older brothers Rich and Rob would spend hours on the frozen ponds playing hockey with other kids. The boys were always on the go, and Ray enjoyed playing baseball along with hockey and other sports.
It was tough on my mom and dad because there were three boys and we were always busy, said Giroux.
In high school, Giroux earned honors in baseball before deciding hockey was his calling. He was drafted right out of high school when he was 17 by the Philadelphia Flyers. His athletic and academic ability allowed him to attend Yale University where he played four years of college hockey and received a degree in Economics. He scored 84 points in 124 games and was voted team captain his senior year, following in the footsteps of his brother Rich, who had also been a team captain at Yale. Ray was the ECAC Player of the Year and NCAA East First Team All American and a Hobey Baker finalist.
After college, he was acquired by the Islanders and was assigned to the Lowell Lock Monsters where he spent two seasons. He made his NHL debut with the Islanders in 1999-00 season.
I think somebody got hurt and the Islanders needed a defenseman and I was playing pretty well at the time and they called me up, said Giroux. It was pretty neat.
He spent a season in Sweden and Finland before re-signing with the Islanders and then with the Albany River Rats and the New Jersey Devils. He was a three-time All-Star and Albanys AHL Man of the Year for community service.
He has learned a lot from his coaches along the way. You take a little bit from everybody and put it together and its been really positive for me. His parents and brothers also had an influence on him. Im fortunate to have a great family and a very loving family and theyve been a tremendous support and inspiration, he added.
Having been in the minors for a while, he knows youre only one step away from the NHL if youre playing well. Currently with the Aeros, in 42 games played, he has 7 goals and 15 assists.
With the NHL season officially cancelled, he will continue to work on his skills and help spice things up.
This year the American League is probably the best league on the planet. Weve got a ton of great players, its a very competitive league, and a lot of fun, he said. Its going to be an interesting season.
Injuries are a part of hockey and Ray has had his share. He is just coming back from a torn knee ligament, and hes torn his MCL completely, separated his shoulder and broken a few bones. He considers himself lucky.
Golf, cooking, hanging out with teammates and playing the guitar are ways he tries to relax. Before a game he gets in a couple of hours of sleep and gets himself mentally prepared.
The locker room is a place where practical jokes are played on one another, but Giroux wont give up his secrets. I like to play jokes on people but I cant tell you what they are because the best joke is when nobody knows who did it, he says laughing. But Id have to say that Dan Cavanaugh is a great prankster. He has a witty sense of humor and always keeps everybody loose.
His advice to kids is simple. Just play it for fun, and if you work hard, you never know what will happen. I wasnt the best player growing up, and I certainly didnt think Id play in the NHL one day. It paid off for me to keep working hard, and having fun.
When asked if he could change one thing about himself what would that be, he replied, Id just try to be the best person I can be on and off the ice and enjoy life and be a good person every day.
Just For Fun:
Q: Who would you like to meet and why?
The President of the United States because he has the toughest job in the world.
Q: Youll never catch me
Q: Ill never forget where I was when
September 11 happened.
Q: The funniest thing that happened to you was when
I got hit in the face by a golf ball accidentally. Actually, I hit myself in the face with the golf ball.
Q: Favorite TV shows
24, Seinfeld and Simpsons.
Q: On thing people might find interesting about me is
Im a beginner guitar player.