To older NHL fans it may seem like Calgary Flames’ defenseman Mark Giordano has been around been around forever. Well, they’re not far off the mark actually. He’s now 35 years old, was a solid player back in 2006 and is arguably even better now, just over a dozen years later.
Giordano is one of those steady and reliable players who have mainly flown under the radar during their career. He’s been a key member of the Flames franchise since 2006/07 even though he’s one of the rare NHL’ers who weren’t drafted. That in itself is a bit of a mystery considering he posted 32 goals and 97 points in 133 games with the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League between 2002 and 2004.
The native of Toronto signed with the Flames in 2004 as a free agent and spent two seasons in the AHL before breaking into the Calgary lineup as a regular in 2006/07. He showed he could handle the rigours of pro hockey by posting 16 goals and 42 assists with Omaha in 2005/06 to lead the team in scoring. He also sent notice that he wouldn’t be pushed around as he served 141 minutes in penalties that season.
Giordano skated in 48 games as an NHL rookie with seven goals and 15 points to his name. However, he and the club couldn’t come to an agreement on a new contract and he headed over to Russia to play for Moscow in that country’s Super League in 2007/08. Fortunately, there were no bridges burned between the player and Flames’ management and he was signed to a new three-year deal before the 2008/09 NHL campaign faced off. He’s been in Calgary ever since due to his skills at both ends of the rink and his leadership abilities.
Those leadership qualities resulted in Giordano being named the team’s captain in 2013 and it’s a position he still holds today. He enjoyed a career year in 2015/16 with 21 goals and 56 points and entered the 2018/19 season with 112 goals, 266 assists and 378 points under his belt in 755 regular-season outings. His off-ice charitable contributions to the community have also been greatly appreciated and he was the recipient of ESPN’s Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award in 2017.
But for all of his success on and off the ice during his career something has been missing for Giordano in Calgary and that’s playoff hockey. The rearguard has managed to skate in just eight postseason games since breaking into the league and it’s something he’s anxious to change, starting with this season.
His first playoff appearance came back in 2006/07 and lasted just four games as the Flames were swept in the first round and the same thing happened in 2016/17. As long as he can stay healthy though, Giordano should be playing postseason hockey once again next April.
The Flames have been one of the most consistent teams in 2018/19 and were sitting atop the Pacific division just a week before Christmas. As long as they don’t derail in the second half of the season they’ll be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender at the end of the 82-game schedule.
Giordano’s been a key contributor to the cause once again this year and the old warhorse has been improving with age. As of December 19th he had chipped in with six goals and 35 points in 33 games and was on pace for an 85-point season. He was also a plus-20 and was logging just over 24-and-a-half minutes of ice time per night. He was tied with Thomas Chabot of the Ottawa Senators and Morgan Rielly of the Toronto Maple Leafs as the top-scoring blue liner in the league.
Giordano appears to be a man on a mission this year and his excellent play means he’s now being mentioned as a contender for the Norris Trophy. Giordano hasn’t let age slow him down as he continues to put his body on the line by blocking shots and playing a physical game. He’s simply a hard-nosed, fierce competitor who never mails in his performance.
There’s no question Giordano’s paid quite well for his work as the Flames deposit $6.75 million into his bank account each year. But there’s also no question that he earns it. His intestinal fortitude is hard to match and he’s evolved into a true cornerstone of the Calgary franchise. Since he leads by example his enthusiasm for the game has rubbed off on fellow Flames’ defensemen such as T.J. Brodie and Noah Hanifin.
With a solid blue line in place and an offensive corps led by the likes of Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Sean Monahan, Calgary look like they have the necessary ingredients to take a run at the cup this year. Newcomer Bill Peters has done a fine job in his first season as head coach and fans are expecting playoff hockey in the city for just the second time in the last dozen years, but also the second time in the past three seasons.
The team’s confidence level should grow as the season progresses with Giordano continuing to lead the way by killing penalties and also quarterbacking the power-play. Compared to other NHL stars it’s taken the blue liner quite some time to finally earn the accolades he’s deserved all along.
But it’s better late than never.