Photo Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Monahan: Giordano for Norris a ‘no-brainer’

Calgary Flames forward Sean Monahan is up for a major NHL award for the first time in his career, but his focus in Las Vegas is anywhere but on himself. Monahan is a finalist for the Lady Byng alongside Florida’s Aleksander Barkov and St. Louis’s Ryan O’Reilly, but he’s far more interested in what happens to his teammate. Calgary’s Mark Giordano is up for the Norris Trophy and Mark Messier Award, and it won’t surprise Monahan if he wins both on Wednesday.

“That’s even cooler than me being here for an award,” Monahan told me poolside on Tuesday. “I’ve known Gio for six years now and I’m basically with him 365 days a year. To see what he’s done and made out of his career, it’s pretty special.”

Most are expecting Giordano to become the first Flames blueliner to take home the Norris, myself included. Giordano combined the ability to play tough shutdown minutes with driving offence and possession better than any other NHL defenceman in 2018-19. When you consider that with the fact Giordano has never won a Norris, the circumstances really add up. Monahan tends to agree.

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“It’s a no-brainer,” he said. “He’s a complete defenceman, he had a great year with points, but he plays the game hard. If you ask anyone throughout the league, he’s tough to play against. He blocks shots, he’s physical, and he plays a real important role for our team. He was a huge factor why, I think, we finished first in the West.”

It’s no stretch to think Giordano could return from Vegas with multiple awards; he’s up for the Messier Award alongside Carolina’s Justin Williams and Wayne Simmonds of the Predators. While choosing the NHL’s top leader is anything but a science, seeing Giordano get the nod wouldn’t be a surprise knowing what he has meant to the Flames over the last six years.

“You look at him and he’s a leader on and off the ice,” Monahan said. “He puts the work in, so I think that’s another one he could be a shoo-in for. He’s a special player and obviously a special person, so I think these are two awards he definitely deserves.”

The countdown is on

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Monahan has stiff competition for the Lady Byng in Barkov and O’Reilly, with the former getting the most buzz as favourite. Both O’Reilly and Monahan are coming off career years, but Barkov dwarfed them both statistically.

Aleksander Barkov 82 35 61 96 8
Sean Monahan 78 34 48 82 12
Ryan O’Reilly 82 28 49 77 12

But while being a first time award finalist is an honour for Monahan, it isn’t making up for a disappointing finish to Calgary’s season.

“I mean, it was a good year points-wise and what not, but when you look back on the season the only thing that sticks out is playoffs. This is an important summer for our whole team, and especially myself. You have to get faster, and we know what we have to do now. This is a real important time for our team and this summer is going to go a long way.”

It sure does sound like Monahan is taking those words to heart. The Flames, and specifically his line, were badly outmatched by the Colorado Avalanche in five playoff games. The lopsided nature of that series is still fresh in Monahan’s mind two months later.

“Everybody has to take a step. I think as a team, we’re a good team, but the league is getting quicker every year. For me personally, that’s my goal is to get more explosive and I think that kind of stuff will go a long way. I’ve been working on that all summer.

“This is my first summer (where) I kind of got to train properly from the start. I’m trying to take advantage of that as much as I can. You look back…three summers I’ve had injuries and a ton of surgeries. I’ve got to take it as a positive, honestly, and like I said, my goal is to become a different player next year.”

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Whether Monahan wins the Lady Byng Wednesday night or not, it’s clear what’s on his mind in Vegas. Sharing what should be a special night for Giordano is a nice summer diversion ahead of a crucial 2019-20 campaign.

    • Zorn

      We all know that “Skirts” Monahan needs to be quicker but what he isn’t saying is he also needs to be harder to play against. He doesn’t need to be a fighter or even any grittier, he just needs to learn to put in the effort to get in peoples way on the backcheck and play hard for the puck in his own zone.

      • Albertabeef

        So we ignore the fact Monahan had the same amount of takeaways as Backs this season, and they were tied for 10th in the league in this stat. Mony ranks 11th over his six year career span(2013-19) as well. Although not the best in the league, he clearly has some put in some effort defensively that goes completely unnoticed.

  • supra steve

    Mony’s saying all the right stuff. Hope he’s committed to getting faster and sacrificing some points, personally, in order to shut down the opposition. He’s got a good role model in Gio.

  • I’ve bit my tongue and held off on some of the drivel many on here post about Monahan…

    He’s just turning 25 next season, barely entering his prime. He’s signed absurdly long for 2/3’s of his market value. His pre-25 age stats compare favourably against many of the top, no questions asked, bonafide number one centres in the league.

    I think maybe we should hold off a year or so and give ‘em a chance before we package him up for Mika fekkin’ Zibinajead or some such other nonsense.

      • That’s bull… though not a Backlund by any stretch, once again, all of his metrics, both defensively and offensively, stack up favourably against many of the top centres in the game at his age equivalent.

        • Rudy27

          Are the Oilers still playing McD on the penalty kill? Seemed to a lot early in the season. I guess just to have a chance at a short handed goal. But why risk the generational player blocking shots on the PK?

        • The Red Knight

          Otw how many giveaways ? Any takeaways from Monahan ? He is softer than a marshmallow soaked in butter ! No business wearing a letter ! He was useless in the playoffs! His previous playoffs stats great but he lost !!! Did you watch the playoffs? Where do you see Monahan competiting against they way everyone else plays ? Regular season is nothing, playoffs are where the winners and losers separate and Monahan was totally useless ,doesn’t stick up for his teammates! Can’t stand wimps that can stand up for his team !

        • The Red Knight

          Otw 2nd in takeways ?? That’s because Backlund and TKACHUK do the heavy lifting against the toplines so Mono can get easy pickings and lots of points put him out there against toplines and with out Johnny and he get owned !!

    • Skylardog

      To be clear Thunder, I am one that has frequently talked about trading for Zib, but never with the idea we should get rid of Monahan. We need 2 top 6 centers, and Mony needs to be one of them.

  • Widemans Anger

    So glad Johnny and Mony win “bings” that’s awesome demonstration of grit… I wonder if it could cashed in for a gentleman’s pass through the first round… (#WeNeedGrit)

  • Rudy27

    Very encouraging that Monahan is focusing hard on getting faster, and there’s validity in his statement about injuries in past summers keeping him from working hard on off-season improvement. Hope Chucky is working with him on getting that extra jump in his step too!

  • Rudy27

    Sure hope Gio gets the Norris and the Messier awards. I’ve been a big fan since seeing him in his first season, and was disappointed when he went to play overseas. He’s been my favourite Flame since coming back.