Are Mark Giordano’s Norris Trophy Dreams Over?

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.

  • RKD

    They need to change the rules for voting, having the most points doesn’t make you a Norris trophy winner. Gio is so valuable to his team he should win the Hart and the Norris. Heck, if the Flames made the playoffs and Gio returned which is highly unlikely give the man the Masterton right now. A lot of d-man can put up points (Subban and Karlsson) but are pretty poor defensively and make a lot of high risk plays. If the voters had half a brain the vote for Gio would be unanimous.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Price makes Subban look good; Crosby makes Letang look good; TJ and Giordano made each other look good.

    Won’t forget the game in Montreal where Subban on the ice for all Flames goals (5-0; Subban -3 and 2 PP goals)…and Gio skated right by Subban who fell on his posterior and Gio scored.

    Nope, he won’t win the Norris…Eastern bias, Gio’s best work was in the first half of the year, allowing Subban and Letang to catch-up.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I don’t think he’ll get any first place votes. Dmen who miss significant time (25% of the season in this case) tend to be pretty much screwed in terms of this, especially if it’s at the end of the season. Additionally, his point production had slowed significantly as it was, and he was being caught by guys like Subban and Weber.

    He’ll get some votes, I’m sure, but I’ll be surprised if he’s in the top 3. He might, maybe, maintain a spot in the top 5.

  • PrairieStew

    He won’t win because Brodie will actually get the votes now.

    Gio’s been solid for a while, and elite the past 2 years since he started playing alongside Brodie. Brodie is scoring at a decent rate and leads all NHL defencemen in plus minus. Now, before everyone tells me plus minus is a useless stat – it clearly is not. It needs to be taken in context. Brodie plays against the best opponents every night and has a huge plus number on what is realistically a middling team. Relative to all his team mates his plus minus is enormous, especially when considering the deployments. If he had the same plus minus as Wideman- who gets easier opponents, then the stat becomes “useless” but he defies the situations. Compare his team to those of other top blue liners Keith (Chicago), Weber (Nash), Subban (Mtl), Letang (Pitt) and it is clear that with a weaker team he is racking up a superior score.

  • mattyc

    myyyyyy bad. *crawls back into cave and resumes fetal position*

    I still think the same rationale applies though. Replace with Price and Ovie with Weber and Keith (yes I know they play in Nashville and Chicago, which are technically ‘west’).

  • Colin.S

    Sucks Gio is out. So much fun to watch him control play like he can, regardless if we win or not. Hopefully he has an even better 2015 – 16. Be fun to watch him and all the youngsters who will a year older and wiser start to tip the ice in our favor.

    6 picks in first 3 rounds is exciting. Maybe turn one into a really good 3/4 D man to throw over the boards. We have some nice options in goal also. Could be good here for a long time.

  • Colin.S

    The Norris looked like a real possibility around the half way mark. But even if he was healthy now I don’t think he would be the front runner.

    There are some big names tied with him in points. As well you have to look at a guy like Prices GAA/SV% and then see Subban in front of him and then add in the guys points as well as his previous Norris win and you’d be almost a fool to bet against him. You also have another Norris winner in Karlsson who is heating up as well. And than a guy like Letang who gets all the spot light playing on the Penguins with Crosby. And these guys also all play out East, and the east coast bias is real to the voters.

    Not to mention some other guys who are perennial contenders in Weber, Doughty, Keith.

    Gio was in tough to win it to start with. The injury has pretty well ended any hope of that. He’ll probably get votes, even get into the top 10 for how much he meant to the Flames. But that’s about it.

    • FeyWest

      I think the major thing for him to really take it away would and has hinged on us making the playoffs but like you say and others have pointed out, the Norris recently has been a really stiff trophy to win. just seeing Brodie and Gio’s name in some of the voting maybe making the finalists would be pretty sweet.

  • mattyc

    yes. He’s not going to win.

    I’m not sure he was going to win anyways. Price is playing amazing, Ovechkin’s got a boatload of goals, and most importantly, both those players play out East, while Gio mostly plays after Toronto sportswriters have gone to bed.