The Seattle Kraken expansion draft has come and gone, the Mark Giordano era with the Calgary Flames has come to an end. After being left unprotected by the team, the Calgary Flames will enter training camp without #5 on their roster for the first time since he stepped on the ice with them in 2005. It has been 949 NHL games with him on the roster, eight seasons of him being the team captain, and a 16 year journey that took him from complete unknown into franchise legend.
There can be endless conjecture on what the organization could have done instead to keep Giordano in the fold for the rest of his career, but the time for that isn’t now. The Flames just lost one of the best players in franchise history, and rather than cry that it is over, we wanted to take some time and look back at all that he did for him teammates, the organization, and the entire city of Calgary.
Giordano is the definition of an NHL success story. After playing junior with the Owen Sound Attack, Giordano went undrafted in his eligible season and although he accepted an invite to the Phoenix Coyotes’s training camp, he would return to the OHL the following season. Once his junior career was over, Giordano was aiming towards an education until former Flames GM, and current head coach, Darryl Sutter offered him a spot at the Flames’ summer camp.
It would be easy to say the rest was history, but Giordano’s journey was far from easy after that.
Although he impressed in camp, and earned himself a contract with the team’s AHL affiliate, it would take him four full seasons before he made the NHL roster full time. During those four years, Giordano spent time in the NHL, AHL and even the KHL working his way to proving the team he belonged on the blueline full time.
Normally a trip to Russia means your career is heading to a close, but for Giordano it was just the push he needed to showcase what he could provide the organization. He earned himself a three-year contract with the team, and never looked back.
Five seasons later, Giordano would take on the mantle of Captain, succeeding franchise legend Jarome Iginla. Giordano was consistently touted by his teammates and players around the league for his leadership qualities and there was no better person to take on that mantle over the past eight seasons.
During his time with the Flames, Giordano racked up 949 games played which puts him second all time in franchise history, fifth in team history for assists at 366, and eighth overall in points with 509. Not too shabby for an undrafted defenseman.
On the ice
To say that Giordano evolved into the complete player may be the biggest understatement of his career. Giordano was an offensive minded defenseman that was a rock in his own zone. He consistently played on the top power play unit, as well as the first pair on the penalty kill. He was consistently the first defensive option in 3v3 overtime and more often than not called upon to be one of the last defenses in a 5v3 PK. Giordano played—and frankly excelled—in every situation he was put in.
As he was a workhorse on the back end, Giordano constantly found himself at the top of the list of average ice time and was more often than not the driver for a lot of the Flames play. Whether it was jumping up in the rush, blocking shots, scoring goals, or stopping two-on ones, Giordano was in the center of it all.
In addition to his own play, Giordano was notorious for elevating the play of his defensive partners. T.J. Brodie, Deryk Engelland, Dougie Hamilton, and Rasmus Andersson all benefited to different levels with having Giordano on their left sides. Often forming some of the strongest pairings in the league, Giordano was still frequently underrated. That of course didn’t impact the Flames appreciation for him.
It’s truly impossible for the Flames to find a guy to replace everything he did on the ice.
Off the ice
Although he was the ultimate leader and professional on the ice, Giordano’s true colours shone off the playing surface. During his time with the Flames, Giordano and his wife Lauren poured their time and money into as many possible charitable initiatives as they possibly could. From their 5-for-5 program with Habitat for Humanity, to the “Team Giordano Project” that eventually earned him the ESPN Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award in 2017.
Mark and Lauren were constant pillars in the Calgary community, often being the first representatives at many team events. It’s not rare to see players pour themselves into their communities, but the extent at which the Giordano’s did was above and beyond expectations.
I think the perfect encapsulation of who Mark Giordano is as a person is when he picked up the grocery tab for Calgarians during COVID-19. No flashy events, no requirement to do so, just Mark Giordano being Mark Giordano. A complete absence of ego and simply wanting to benefit the community that supported him for his career is just another reason why we fully didn’t deserve Giordano.
Highlights and things to remember him by
Although we could spend hours talking about each shift Giordano took with the Flames, here are some of the best moments that we will never forget:
- His first training camp with the Flames. Lucious locks and all.
- His first NHL goal
- His last goal as a Calgary Flame
- Winning the Norris Trophy as Mr. Young & Fresh
- Winning the Mark Messier Leadership Award
- Almost making the fanbase lose our minds at a potential Giordano vs. Iginla fight
- Embarrassing Nazem Kadri
- A questionable goal celebration
- Of course, tearing his bicep against the Devils and then taking warmup the next game
O Captain! My Captain!
Mark Giordano was simply the epitome of what you could want out of a hockey player, captain, and overall human being. The Calgary Flames organization was spoiled with his on ice skills and off ice contributions for years. It feels as if it will only be after he is completely gone when the team realizes just how integral he was to the fabric of the team and city.
It’s entirely possible that our dear #5 will don a Flames sweater again before his career is complete, and its almost a certainty that he will retire a Calgary Flame in some capacity.
Until then, it’s so long Captain. Thank you for everything.
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports