In a year filled with moral victories, one that is certain to stand out, for all who have a vested interest in the Calgary Flames, is the play and leadership of captain Mark Giordano.
With the departure of Jarome Iginla, Giordano was named the 19th captain in Flames history prior to the start of the 2013-14 season. All Giordano has done this season is fully justify Flames’ management in their selection of him.
A quick glance at the season stats shows ‘Gio’ is having his finest offensive season to date. Thirteen goals and 32 assists already make for his most productive season points wise, and that’s with missing 18 games due to a broken ankle from blocking a shot. His willingness to block shots and contribute defensively while possessing such a strong offensive game, are traits that further add to the qualities and body of work of Giordano.
To be on the No. 1 defensive pairing on both the powerplay and penalty kill for your NHL team is no small feat to accomplish. In fact, the past two Norris Trophy winners as the league’s top defenseman, Erik Karlsson and P.K. Subban, are not on their teams’ top penalty kill unit. While Karlsson and Subban both have offensive strengths that trump those of Giordano’s, Giordano doesn’t have a glaring weakness in his game that limits when he can and cannot be used.
Another strong stat of Giordano’s is his plus/minus rating of plus-10. Considering he logs over 25 minutes of ice-time per game for the league’s sixth-most friendly team, in terms of giving up goals, again showcases his value to the Flames. Giordano is excellent at picking his spots to get involved offensively while making sure his defensive effort isn’t compromised. The Flames are a different team when he is on the ice.
As far as leadership goes, Giordano’s defensive partner TJ Brodie sums up the type of influence Giordano has on those around him. Brodie, just 23 years of age, is in his third year in the league. One cannot underestimate how big of an ask it is for such a young player, both in age and experience, to constantly be matched up against the opposing teams’ top line. A smooth skater himself, Brodie’s game has improved dramatically, on both sides of the puck, despite the weight of responsibility he has been asked to carry this season playing with Giordano.
In a year of finding out just what the Flames possess in their collection of players, a leader with a warrior-type mentality and all-around game to match, has been a welcomed sight in Calgary. From Captain Gio, you’d expect nothing less.