Ray Giroux ’98 was promoted — or repromoted — to the New Jersey Devils on Monday.
After a series of promotions and demotions between the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League, Giroux is once again a member of the New Jersey Devils. He joined the Devils for their game Tuesday night against the Colorado Avalanche, although he did not suit up.
“It takes an unreal level of commitment to succeed at the NHL level, along with a lot of perseverance, hard work and a bit of luck,” Giroux said Tuesday. “But I am extremely lucky to have a Yale degree. It is certainly not common amongst NHL players.”
Giroux, 26, signed with the New Jersey Devils in the offseason and was placed on the Albany River Rats, the Devil’s minor league AHL affiliate. In the AHL, Giroux exhibited superior skills and leadership capability as captain.
Last year, he ranked fourth among AHL defenders with 40 assists and fifth with 53 points. This year, Giroux leads both the River Rats and the American Hockey League overall with 33 assists and 42 points. In addition, he has been selected to the AHL All-star game three out of the last four years.
Giroux, 6 feet 1 inch and 190 pounds, followed in the footsteps of his older brother Rich Giroux ’94 and captained the Bulldogs his senior year. It was the first time in Yale athletic history that brothers captained the same sport. As a senior, Giroux led the team to a national ranking of No. 5 — its highest ranking ever at the time.
“That season was amazing. We sold out every game and had tremendous support from the community. It was a fantastic time at Yale,” Giroux said.
Giroux finished his collegiate career in 1998 as Yale’s first ECAC Player of the Year. In addition, his accolades include All-American status, ECAC First Team, the ECAC’s Best Defensive Defenseman, and Ivy League Player of the Year. In 2000, Giroux also was named to the ECAC All-Decade team for the 1990s.
“Ray was a very special kid while at Yale and remains extremely loyal to the school,” Yale men’s hockey coach Tim Taylor said. “Ray was arguably the finest hockey player that has ever put on a Yale uniform.”
In 1994, Giroux was drafted from high school by the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers as the 202nd overall pick. The Flyers traded him to the New York Islanders in exchange for a 2000 draft pick. He made his professional debut on Dec. 11, 1999, as an Islander. He played 14 games that year before leaving the following year to play in Europe.
In 2001, Giroux played two games in the NHL before his contract expired. He then signed with New Jersey as a free agent July 12, 2002. In 16 NHL games, Giroux has a minus-one rating with six assists.
Giroux, whose greatest weakness is his size, was called up from the minor league River Rats Jan. 27 and sent back Jan. 29. On Monday, he was promoted again for the Devils game against the Colorado Avalanche.
Giroux has not allowed his obstacles to deter him from reaching his dream. He continues to work for his chance to succeed in the NHL.
“I sure hope it works out for him, because nobody could be more deserving,” Taylor said.