35Mark Giordano
Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA Today Sports

Mark Giordano’s journey more than worth it with Norris Trophy win

If you follow the Calgary Flames, you’re very familiar with Mark Giordano’s journey to the NHL. But after being in Las Vegas watching him win the organization’s first ever Norris Trophy, that’s the one thing I kept thinking about. Giordano didn’t travel the typical road to the show, but nothing about Calgary’s captain is typical. He’s an outlier in every sense of the word, which makes his Norris triumph that much more remarkable.

“I wouldn’t have said much, I would have probably laughed a lot,” Giordano said when I asked him if he saw this coming at the age of 18. If you remember, Giordano was playing Junior ‘A’ hockey with the Brampton Capitals of the OPJHL after going undrafted in the OHL. It took that long for Giordano to pop onto the major junior radar.

“There were times where, you know, you can doubt yourself, especially as a young guy,” Giordano said. “I think as I got older, that went away. I started to believe in myself more. There were some tough times, it wasn’t always easy. I think going through going to Russia, going to the minors a few times, it makes you want it more and you know what it takes.”

Here’s the quick history lesson. Giordano was an undrafted Flames invite to summer development camp following his junior career. He was there with names like Dennis Wideman and Richie Regehr and earned a contract out of that camp.

But this was before a new CBA was ratified in the summer of 2005, so Giordano signed a three-way contract. That’s right; it was a contract with provisions to play in the NHL, the AHL, and the ECHL. And just as Giordano was working his way up the organizational ranks, he ran into his first contract impasse.

With 55 NHL games under his belt, Giordano left for Moscow Dynamo of the Russian Super League at the age of 22. How many guys go across the pond and still find their way back to the NHL, let alone to become an eventual superstar? And yet, when Giordano returned to North American for the 2008-09 season, he looked like a different player. He’d never spend another day in the minors and the ascension truly began.

“The last, I would say, seven or eight years I’ve really gained confidence in myself as a player. I think I’ve always taken a lot of pride in playing defensively and I think my game has a come a long way over the years. This year, for whatever reason, everything just came together offensively and defensively and I had a great year.”

In reality, though, it’s not one great year for Giordano. We’re talking about one of the league’s elite defenceman for the last six seasons, which just happens to correlate to being named team captain. The Flames have boasted one of the NHL’s best pairings virtually every year since that point, but there’s always been one common denominator: the captain.

Because of his journey, humility, incredible work in the community, and hardworking approach on the ice, Giordano struck a chord with fans in Calgary early on. That connection with the city has only grown, to the point where it’s hard to envision him playing anywhere else.

“It’s a hidden gem,” Giordano told me when talking about Calgary. “With the people in the city and the way they treat you and the way everyone cares so much about each other, it’s such a great place to grow and grow up really for me. Now to have my kids there, it’s even more special. You know, you win an individual award, but there’s a lot of people to thank behind the scenes who don’t get the credit. I’ll try to do that in the next little bit.”

I honestly have no idea what happens next for Giordano. Is he a Norris finalist again? Does the rise continue? Or is this the peak? Right now, the answer doesn’t seem to matter.

    • Jobu

      Picks and a prospect? Boo Walt. Just boo.

      He’s the best defenseman in the league. And he’s not going to just fall off a cliff in the next 3 years. Just ask the other 30 guys in training camp who STILL can’t keep up with him physically.

      This guy has Chara longevity written all over him.

    • meat1

      I’m afraid our window to trade a big contract to TO ended when their salaries began to explode a year ago. And Toronto doesn’t have a first rounder this year anyway. I do think trading Gio is something that needs to be discussed one year from today though.

      • freethe flames

        it would not have to be to TO as WW suggests but is something that will end up being discussed and the holding on to IGGY to long will be discussed along with it.

      • The Red Knight

        Read the room ? You must mean the powerpuffs that think this team isn’t full of wimpy players that don’t play as a team and will never win anything but personal hardware . Awesome for Gio ,now hopefully he can learn how to play in the playoffs when it matters !

    • freethe flames

      As for trading Gio these year I would say it is highly doubtful; he has a full nTC and this team believes that it is close to having a chance to win with him the lineup. Next year though his NTC changes where he gives a list ot 19 teams he would be willing to be traded to. I f this team falters again next year then one could see him being willing to move and that might be the best time to trade him. My heart says I would love to see Gio win here and retire a Flame but my brain reminds me of the Iggy situation and if we are not going to win with him we sure as he77 should get some assets for him.

      • The Red Knight

        Win what did you watch the playoffs, this team had no business there and there wimpy play is proof , win? They will have to rid half the team then ,cause skirts don’t win Stanley cups !

      • The GREAT WW

        I think you are correct FF; next summer is the time to trade Gio.

        One more run at the cup with the old fella, then trade him before the expansion draft.

        WW

        • freethe flames

          If he has another good year next year he will still have good value. He has a great track record based upon his fitness training, a very effective player, an outstanding citizen and a great leader; all things a team would be willing to pay for. And his contract after this season would still be a good deal. Again my head and heart don’t agree.

          • freethe flames

            Jobu: I love Gio and all he brings but at some point you need to have the conversation. Come have a beer tomorrow night and we can discuss this and all things Flames. Just don’t put a curse on me.
            Free

          • Jobu

            Only at Flames Nation would you hear talk about trading your best player, captain, and heart and soul of the team, AFTER he wins the Norris.

            You make Jobu mad. Gio deserves better fans than this.

          • Jobu

            Jobu disagrees. Instead let us show some loyalty to the man. He has shown nothing but loyalty to us. That conversation should never happen and he hopes that the club agrees.

            Trust Jobu and his visions of the future! Gio will still be worth his 6.75 million salary 3 seasons from now. And even if in the last year he only plays worth half that, Calgary (all of us) owes it to him to keep him a Flame and hopefully resign him for the remainder of his career.

            The man is a Flames legend. He wants to be here. And personally Jobu wants him to be here until the day he hangs up the skates. His name belongs in the rafters.

            Make no mistake, we are all fans of the Flaming C because the players make us fans. We cant and shouldn’t turn our back on the guys that made the C something to respect.

            In short, Jobu loves him some Gio.

            As far as Friday Draft Beers go its a toss up. It starts at 6 I believe, and Jobu highly doubts that he’d be able to stay out until the Flames pick. I’ll do my best though. If not, have fun chaps!

          • Jobu

            Not sure, Free. Cant recall the last duration, ans cant find the rules on “the clock” online.

            Jobu’d assume that the broadcast will want to end promptly at 9pm. So working backwards, and assuming it takes about 5 minutes to clock, announce, and photograph a single selection, you’re probably looking at an 8:20 – 8:40 selection time for the Flames.

  • freethe flames

    I was reading that Sen’s might be interested in TJ; looking at their D core you can see why. The question is what do they have that we need. Maybe package a deal with TJ and Neal for White and Bodeker and their first second rounder(32 over all).

  • freethe flames

    With the Canucks signing Edler for 2x6m I can think of some other reasons for loving Gio, Gio 3x 6.75, Edler 2x 6, Burns for $8m and he’s signed longer than Gio and is almost as old, Hedman at $7.9 is a deal very much(%) likes Gio’s when signed and is a good deal for a young stud like him. But I would take Gio’s contract and status over Burns’s and Edlers all day.

  • CalgaryBornandRaised

    Flames have the recognized best defensemen in the league, and he earned it, this guy brought it every night, and had 4 shorthanded goals! Insane

    I know the prudent thing would be to trade Gio next year, but there is a large part of me that wants to see him ride this out and retire here as a Flame

  • KootenayFlamesFan

    Congrats Gio!!!!

    Everybody including me has whined about an edit button, but what I’d REALLY like is an ignore button so I can filter out all the Coiler Troll Sh$t that is flooding this comments section now.

    • oilcanboyd

      Yeah, Oiler trolls can only watch their sinking ship, so they amuse themselves by taking swipes at a real hockey TEAM! Another first round pick got the fast track to failure – Puljujarvi.

    • Jobu

      That idea is actually quite brilliant. Hide the posts from people you don’t like. Of course, once they realize no one is responding they’ll just signup another account, but at least its one more deterrent.

      Somebody make this happen.