The Calgary Flames should (eventually) retire Mark Giordano’s number

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
9 months ago
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On March 2, 2024, the Calgary Flames will retire Mikka Kiprusoff’s number 34. When it comes to jersey retirements, there’s no clear-cut requirement that qualifies a player. Generally-speaking, it’s meant to commemorate the individual accomplishments of a key individual in franchise history, and allows the hockey club and its fans to enjoy some good vibes for a few days while retiring a number. It’s part commemorating history, part lifetime achievement award, part marketing event.
It goes without saying, but the Flames should definitely retire Mark Giordano’s number 5 whenever his playing career comes to an end.
In addition to being a really good player, Giordano’s also a heck of a story. A Toronto product, he was an undrafted walk-on into the Ontario Hockey League and played two seasons with the Owen Sound Attack. But he wasn’t drafted into the NHL despite his strong OHL numbers, so he was enrolling at York University when the Flames came calling in the summer of 2004, looking to fill out their minor league roster. (Sadly, Giordano never had a chance to take those accounting classes…)
Figuring he’d give pro hockey a shot, Giordano signed a three-way deal (different salaries in the NHL, AHL and ECHL) with the Flames. By the time his entry-level deal was over, he was pushing for a regular NHL gig. Then-general manager Darryl Sutter declined to offer him a one-way deal (with NHL money regardless of if he was in the NHL or not), so Giordano bet on himself and headed to Russia to play a season in the Superleague with Moscow Dynamo. The Flames’ blueline group lacked depth without him, and he re-signed with the team following the season.
From 2008 onward, Giordano’s rise from being a reliable depth player to being their best blueliner was remarkable. Every season, he got a little bit better and more confident and so his role grew. He was the team’s top all-situations blueliner for several seasons and when Jarome Iginla left the club via trade in 2013 to chase a Stanley Cup, he was the obvious choice for captain.
That said, Giordano became captain at arguably the worst possible time to do so. The Flames had lost Robyn Regehr a couple seasons prior, and Iginla’s departure coincided with Jay Bouwmeester being traded and Miikka Kiprusoff retiring and the Flames beginning a rebuild. The Flames desperately needed a spark and an identity. Giordano gave them that.
It’s not unusual for players, even reliable veterans, to bristle and initially struggle in net situations or bigger roles. Heck, we saw a few examples of that in Calgary in the 2022-23 season. But somehow, Giordano didn’t struggle as captain, he found new ways to excel. Giordano became captain at the age of 30, a time where players of all stripes tend to max out developmentally (and many start their decline). Giordano started getting Norris votes in 2013-14, the year he became captain, and in 2018-19 he became the first (and only) Flames player to capture the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top blueliner.
Was Giordano the best blueliner the Flames ever had? Well, that was probably Al MacInnis. But Giordano’s post-30 surge in performance makes it a bit of a conversation, especially given that he won the Norris as a Flame and MacInnis didn’t. More importantly, Giordano was the club’s captain at a really important time, and the rebuild process could have gone a lot differently had he been bad in his role. He provided a strong example for his teammates both on and off the ice.
The Flames needed Giordano to give the team leadership, strong performances, and an identity as they stepped into their rebuild process. For the better part of a decade, he did so. Only Iginla has served longer as Flames captain.
When Giordano decides he’s done playing professional hockey, retiring number 5 is a no-brainer.

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