A week ago in Newark, Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano went down with a bicep injury in the waning moments of Calgary’s 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.
We now know that Giordano will undergo surgery and is done for the season. At the time of the injury, Giordano was one of the NHL’s leading scorers among defensemen and considered one of the leading candidates for the Norris Trophy – awarded to the league’s best defender.
But now that he’s going to miss the final 21 games of the season, does he have a shot at winning it?
WHY HE MIGHT
- The Calgary Flames are the NHL’s biggest surprise of 2014-15, and he’s been their best player all season. Narratives are powerful influences on award voters, and the Flames being in the playoff picture is a ginormous narrative.
- Giordano lost out on the Norris last season after a strong start due to an injury, but now he’s developed a body of work. Sure, he’ll have missed just shy of 40 games over the last two seasons, but he’s been arguably the NHL’s top defender when he was healthy. And there may be a bit of a sympathy factor in play – note Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy tweeting “Giordano’s going to lose the Norris in consecutive seasons due to injury. This sucks.”
- Moreso than last year, Giordano has the benefit of timing. Last season, he got injured early. His early injury meant that most of the voters for the Norris – Professional Hockey Writers Association members – didn’t get to see him until much later in the season, when perhaps a few names had already wedged themselves into the contention for the Norris. This season? Giordano’s done the big road trips out east and out west and spent the vast majority of the season getting Norris hype wherever he went. I’m not certain that hype and awareness of how strong a player he is disappears within the next 19 games.
WHY HE WON’T
- Generally-speaking, the Norris goes to the highest-scoring defenseman (or one of the highest-scoring defensemen). Giordano won’t finish at the top in scoring, so that really hurts his chances.
- In the past decade, nobody has won the Norris Trophy without playing the whole season – or just shy of the whole season. As much as we’d hope otherwise, the reality has been that for injured contenders, it’s often out of sight, out of mind for PHWA voters.
- Finally, don’t discount The Brodie Effect. In short – T.J. Brodie is really, really good, and there’s a debate among Flames fans regarding which player is elevating which. Is Brodie making Giordano better or the other way around? If the Flames succeed without Giordano – or even if the bottom doesn’t completely fall out – I wouldn’t be shocked to see Brodie get some votes that would’ve otherwise gone to the captain.
SUM IT UP
I don’t think Mark Giordano ends up as a Norris finalist now. He’s just missing too much time and too many other contenders – including his own teammate – will be getting key minutes at a key moment of the season.
There’s always next year.