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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

This year’s Flames fully reflect captain’s character and work ethic

The utter incredibleness of Mark Giordano the hockey player continues to be unveiled during a season like no other for the Calgary Flames defenceman.

His absence at the All-Star Game this weekend is of no consequence — especially when you consider he’s the PHWA’s top pick for this year’s Norris Trophy at the break.

Recently becoming the fifth member of the Flames to crack the 50-point mark this year (no other team has more than three, and 14 of them have none), the captain will easily surpass his career high of 56 from 2015-16, and is on pace to eclipse the point-per-game averages of 0.73 and 0.79 he posted in his previous pair of injury-shortened seasons.

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Giordano’s got more goals while shorthanded (3) than on the man advantage (2), and a nice balance of all three including six at even strength — where 58% of his 52 points have come so far.

All this as a 35-year-old who is supposed to — according to the laws of nature — be slowing down, losing reaction time and feeling the wear-and-tear of more than 800 games in the NHL. He’s not supposed to be enjoying a career season of this magnitude on a hellacious pace of 1.06 points per game. Tied with the San Jose Sharks’ Brent Burns for more than any other blueliner in the league thus far, and better than all but 31 of the NHL’s top forwards.

But of all the ways the age-defying Giordano has made an impact on the Flames and their extremely impressive season, his on-ice statistics are the most measurable, but not necessarily the most essential to a team that finally seems to have the kind of chemistry that can keep them playing deep into the spring.

If there’s no quit in the Flames, it’s because there’s never been any quit from the captain. The guy who wasn’t drafted into the OHL, wasn’t drafted into the NHL, and had to work harder than most to get to where he is today — earning his keep in the AHL, keeping his NHL dream alive by detouring through Russia and the KHL, and improving every detail every season since as a regular with the Flames.

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If there’s a resilience and confidence that keeps the Flames from going on extended losing skids, it’s because the team shares Giordano’s consistency and cool-headedness, and the unwavering knowledge they can and will rebound quickly. The team has lost three straight games just twice this season, and both streaks involved one of those decisions going to a shootout.

Teams draw a lot of their collective personality from the leadership group, especially their coach and captain, and this year’s version has proven to be the perfect blend of focus, fun, and family.

When it comes to the latter, Giordano has been the group’s dressing room father figure for years — and only in part because of his literal status as a team elder. The only notables to have more candles on their birthday cakes in the six years since Giordano become captain include Mike Smith, Jaromir Jagr, Deryk Engelland, Dennis Wideman, Curtis Glencross, Brian McGrattan, Michael Cammalleri and Lee Stempniak.

Most of them were just passing through. Giordano has been a constant. His maturity, positivity and quiet but steady leadership has always belied his age. His character has never come into question — even when the group at large was accused of lacking enough of it as recently as last season.

Proud and protective as they come, Giordano wasn’t about to let last year’s crumbling down the stretch become a downward spiral for the Flames this year.

GM Brad Treliving told the Toronto Sun’s Michael Traikos this week that the team’s leadership group took it upon themselves to correct last year’s negative image.

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“They were pissed,” Treliving said. “They were pissed off with how it ended, they were pissed off with their season. There was lots of stuff written about the character of the group — and we made some changes — but I can tell you that the core group has been around me for a while. That’s something that I never, ever questioned. They believed in each other and thought that we had a great team here and wanted to go out and prove that. They were really driven to have success.”

None more than Giordano, who knows his window to win a Stanley Cup — or even just have a meaningful run in the playoffs — is wide open but likely won’t remain that way for more the length of his current contract (which runs through 2022).

He hasn’t had much luck with that so far. He got a taste of the postseason as an up-and-comer in 2007 but the Flames lost to the Detroit Red Wings in the first round that year. The next season, he bolted to Russia over a contract dispute with GM Darryl Sutter, and missed the team’s first-round exit against the San Jose Sharks. Injuries kept Giordano out of both the 2009 first-round loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, and the deflating second-round defeat at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks in 2015 after a thrilling first-round victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

He’s not the loudest presence in the locker room. His style is more by example, although every player will tell you they’re constantly being pushed to be better by their captain, much in the way past teams were prodded by the previous one, Jarome Iginla. A subtle jab with a deeper meaning is all it takes when those most respected have something to say.

And the outrageous numbers Giordano is putting up this year aren’t necessary for his comments to carry weight on this team.

“He’s our leader. He’s the conscience and moral calibrator of our team,” Treliving recently told the Athletic’s Scott Cruickshank. “He pushes others to be better. Sometimes it’s not pretty, but the effort level that he plays at, it raises others to compete the same way and all the things that go with it that are effort-related.”

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Giordano is engrained in this team’s DNA. And that’s an incredible thing more and more people are starting to understand and appreciate.


  • freethe flames

    I think anyone who follows the Flames knows all this about Gio; the questions for me are: who are the vocal leaders, who make up the core of the leadership team (and it’s easy to say all the good young guys but I am not sure that is true) and who are the glue guys; the guys who go to war for their teammates and who their teammates would go to war for them. Somehow this team has found the magic of “team” and that is hard to do. As we talk about adding talent at the TDL the one thing that BP and BT must concern themselves with is not to subtract those “glue guys”.

      • freethe flames

        Coaching indeed has something to do with it. But I suspect that a guy like Lindholm helps with that group; he seems like that kind of guy. Let’s ask the question who is left over from the Hartley playoff team: Gio, TJ, Johnny, Monny, Backs, Frolik, and Bennett- am I missing anyone? Who have they added that are obvious leaders: Tkachuk, Hamonic, Lindholm. Smith and Neal are supposed to be but I often think of both of them as outliers. Rittich I think is one of those glue guys.

        • Skylardog

          We cannot miss out Hamonic (and you didn’t). Guy gets his face broken sticking up for a rookie almost before the puck even drops on the season. These are the types of guys that build “team”

          Riiter I am sure keeps it light.

          Peters lets these guys develop the room by not standing up and saying stupid things to the press like “We need the PP to be better and we need to find a way for the guys to fix it.”

          I hated that hair.

          We really have gotten to see just how bad GG was. He sucked the team right out of them.

          • Jourflamesfan

            I cringe when I see his videos up on YouTube about coaching.
            He doesn’t know a thing about coaching in the NHL.
            He fools people into believing he has all the answers but in practice he flunks.
            Dallas, Vancouver, Calgary and now Edmonton.

          • The GREAT WW

            Interesting you mention YouTube.
            One of my first exposures to GG was on YouTube; that’s why I was so confident from the day he was hired that he would be a terrible coach, more specifically a terrible leader….

            WW

        • The Beej

          @free the flames

          Agree on Lindholm. Giordano does it all and so does Lindholm. Lindholm almost reflects what Gio brings on the forward side of things:

          Great offensively and defensively at even strength.

          Great on both the power play and penalty kill.

          Really just great all around. Trusted and dominant in any situation.

        • Hockeysense9393

          We also need to mention Lindholm’s Contract in how this team is structured. BT has truly sold the attitude that we want to win now and players (as young as they are) will cash in because of these crucial 5-7 years…early in their careers. That’s why I believe (with this attitude BT has created) Tkachuk will sign to a contract that benefits both sides. Maybe 6 years as apposed to 8, but for an AVV of a number the Flames can work with. BT is very good at staggering contracts to spread bigger signings out. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tkachuk took a Gaudreau type contract. That would be only a couple years of his UFA I believe?

    • Hockeysense9393

      I think last summer is a good indication that the Management crew here has a good finger on the pulse of this team. I have confidence in the fact that if there is a addition/subtraction factor that may happen from now until the deadline, will have the locker room attitude in the front of their mind.

  • Sven

    Off topic – but a strange observation

    Easily the best team Calgary has had in years –
    playing the most exciting hockey the Flames have played in decades..

    and attendance is at a 14 year low..?

    Is this the ultimate sign of the economic horror that is Alberta / YYC in 2019?

  • buts

    I agree to a certain point but you have to ask that if Gio is the reason for the groups success why were the last 2 years so bad? Gio doesn’t do line changes, run practices and alot ice time. The real reason is the head coach, its Bill Peters that match’s lines, installs the systems, knows who has “it” on any particular night, presents the opportunities for success. Gio is amazing and a great captain but if you have a bad coach like GG he can’t do what he’s doing.

  • Getpucksdeep

    I remember clearly the debate at the time when Iggy left. We all figured the Captaincy was between Gio and Curtis Glencross!!! Can’t even imagine where the club would be without his leadership. Sometimes the C is just an honor and sometimes its more than that and a Captain can really make a difference. We are so lucky Gio makes a difference.

    • Hockeysense9393

      You can either pick a dude that exceplifies your team and how you progress year by year. Or you can just pick someone every couple years to symbolize a leadership (Habs looking at you). Either way has its benefits. Landeskog, McDavid, and Eichel are Captains through thick and thin…and they don’t look much better then the Habs. Gio is actually a Captain that you create an attitude around. He’s one of the top in all categories; he’s a humanitarian award winner; he’s a story of perseverance; he’s makes everybody better around him; he even sets a contract pattern with respect. What more do you want in a Captain?

      • Derzie

        Picking the best player to be the captain is a risky practice. Iggy was rare and was both best player & best captain. Sid Crosby, cups to prove it. Most every NHL player wants to win so thinking that is enough to be a captain is silly. Guys like Lands, McDavid & Eichel are still learning to be captains but are not there, in my opinion.

  • Jimmyhaggis

    I was surprised when Sutter let Gio walk, even I could see something special, we’re lucky we got him back. Speaking of the economy, it will bounce back, it always does, then the house will be packed. However a new facility would also help.

    • FlamesFanFromMI

      It’s because of this damn economy that I am here in MI. If it was up to me I would never leave my beloved city but 2 years unemployment will do this to you. I just feel sad and home sick when they show live pics of Calgary during home games

  • The GREAT WW

    WE don’t see any more Oiler trolls on FN, could you be marine? We would laugh them out of this place…..

    What these imbred degenerate Oiler fans are now doing is IMPOSTER accounts and other fake accounts.
    FN is infested with them.

    Go back to your hole in the ground AKA ON, and cheer on your welfare team…..

    (If I sound a little grumpy lately it’s because CHIARELLI is gone, the equalizer was so good…..but .I’m sure they will replace him with someone even worse….)

    WW

  • Manginasal

    Interesting Johnny article up on Sun.

    The advice that Brian did give me was, ‘Hey, tell him we love him, but pull the contract at some point. And when you pull the contract, they’ll have to make a decision either way.’ So we did do that. I was waiting until the bitter end, but I finally called Lewis and I said, ‘Hey I think we’re going to pull the contract. We understand he wants to go back. We’re good. We are going to be sitting in the same spot next year and we’ll love him just as much as we love him now. So I think we’re going to take the contract … ’

    ”And Lewis said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. Give me just a few minutes.’ He said, ‘Johnny hasn’t talked to his parents about it yet. They’re driving back home, and they’re going to talk about it.’ It was probably about an hour after that and I got a call back.”

    With good news.

    https://calgarysun.com/sports/hockey/nhl/calgary-flames/ready-for-takeoff-reliving-johnny-gaudreaus-jet-to-nhl-stardom

  • freethe flames

    Gio is the front runner for the Norris and deservedly so. But I want to comment on TJ Brodie. I know he is not the reason that Gio is having a great season but IMO Gio’s bets two seasons have been when he has played with TJ. I think the major reason is they trust each other and that brings out the best in both. TJ has his warts but he is just so much better this year than the two years on the left side. I wonder what the Flames will do at the trade deadline next year if they have both TJ and Hamonic as UFA’s.

  • Em Durp Em Hrudey

    This WW/Manginasal love affair on FN is the most annoying thing on here in a long time. Trolls and imposters are more bearable than these old farts useless drabble. Ban WW and I bet all imposters leave.

  • #27Train.

    I was a bit surprised at the fan poll where Only 58% of our fans voted we would win the conference, while 42% said we would not!! Also Skylardog and Albertabeef and I are metting tonight at the Backlot Bar on 10thSW if anyone else is interested.

  • freethe flames

    So way off topic and back to discussing the TDL. What do people think of Marcus Johannson out of NJ as a target. 28 years old can play all 3 forward positions. Cap [email protected]$4.6m. He has 72 Play off games played and has 30 play off points. I have not watched NJ enough to know enough about his play this year: 36 games played 16 points. Any thoughts?

    • Jourflamesfan

      Any player added up front probably needs to be better than Frolik/Bennett/Neal by a measurable amount to make expending any assets on the player worthwhile.

      Is Johannson better than those players? I think so, but how much? That’s debatable when you think of two way play and the line that they’re trying to fit into.

      Getting say Stone is different … that’s altering the top six. But don’t spend a huge amount of assets in adding a fourth guy to the mix (Frolik/Bennett/Neal) and pushing one to the fourth line.

      Better to aim for a guy just lower than those players … a third liner elsewhere that becomes a 3/4 in Calgary.

      • freethe flames

        So the question is can he play up the line up? Is he significantly better than the 4th line guys? And of course what would be the asking price? Pizanno mentions the injury problem as I don’t know what the injuries were I am concerned as well but that is why he might be cheap.

    • The Beej

      I really like the idea of acquiring Johansson because I feel like now is a buy low moment due to him underperformimg scoring-wise this year.

      He is still playing well and is probably just suffering from being on one of the worst teams in the league and having a biy of bad luck.

      Has a game that could mesh well with Backlund and Tkachuk. It would push Neal to the 4th line but whatever. That would be crazy good depth to have for a run and Neal could still get some PP time and be ready to move up in the event of an injury to a winger.

  • Jourflamesfan

    Strange quote in this article. Flyers CEO says Flyers GM was in Calgary to scout Flames.

    http://www.philly.com/sports/philade…-20190126.html

    Quote:

    Fletcher was in Calgary on Thursday, Scott said, scouting a playoff-caliber team that is considered a trade-deadline buyer.

    Since the Flames last played on Tuesday, it is more likely that Fletcher was in Calgary to watch the CHL top prospects game in Red Deer if he was still in Calgary on Thursday. But whatever more smoke to the Simmonds speculation.

  • Jourflamesfan

    Elliotte Friedman @FriedgeHNIC
    At the invitation of Pacific Division coach Bill Peters — Johnny Gaudreau’s father, Guy, will join the team on the bench for today’s 3-on-3 tournament. Man knows his hockey

  • The GREAT WW

    The latest from Mc.Rib on ON;

    “TheGreatWW over at FN is now sending trolls to our site simply to cause trouble and be annoying, making us feel already worse than we we should. He is also getting email addresses somehow, (he is admitting this) and sending messages, like the one I recently received from him. The mods really need to look into this!!”

    What a clown!!!!!!!!

    WW

  • freethe flames

    So here’s another off topic observation for discussion. When(if) do the Washington Capitals begin to panic? This is a team that is in free fall at the moment. Do they look to make a trade to shake things up? If so is there someone there the Flames should be looking at?

    • Manginasal

      Yeah, let’s just hope they dont end their free fall against us next week.

      For me THIS is where the real season begins.
      What happens between now and April is going to really telling of what we got here…
      Will the Flames sustain there winning ways or will they slip and slide to the finish?

      Will teams like Washington, Pittsburgh, etc clamp down and be that dominant teams like in the past?

      I’m nervous anticipation

  • Intercourse the Penguins

    I confess I have come on this forum and proposed trading Gio to T.O. as he is from there, would wave his no moov claws and afford him the best shot at winning a Stanley Cup. Twice. I was wrong. Twice.He has a very good shot right here. I will now punish myself with my third of six lager and limes and in that way expunge my guilt, sin and remorse.

  • Manginasal

    That was very disappointing by the Pacific.
    I actually thought they would be much better.
    It further drives home the suspicion that McDavid is not a very good leader.
    WW said it best “The Captain (Gio) would not have let this happen. ”
    Leon Drysaddle was -4 with most ice time and he didnt even get a point.
    Gibson was horribad. He wasnt sharp AT all!
    Too bad for Johnny.

    • The GREAT WW.

      This all-Star game was a sack of steaming hot crap. The circus is over. Go back to playing an actual game or don’t play at all. East vs West. This dog and pony show lost my attention after 10 minutes. It’s hard to boo a puppy. You can’t boo a handful of puppies, but I surely say a big fat Boo to this all star event. BOOOOOOOO…….

      WW

  • Manginasal

    Heat win 4-3 in OT with 1 second remaining. 27 saves on 30 shots for Gillies.

    Goals 
    Rychel from Mangiapane and Healey
    Mangiapane from Lomberg Dube
    Robinson from Phillips and Valimaki PP goal with goalie pulled for extra attacker
    Rychel OT winner from Valiev and Lazar

    1st AHL point for Valimaki