The latest edition features Mark Giordano, captain of the Calgary Flames since 2013-14 and winner of the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman in 2018-19. Giordano was also named winner of the Mark Messier Leadership award in 2019-20, chosen as the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season. Never drafted, the 37-year-old has played 14 NHL seasons, all with the Flames, and has been selected to play in the NHL All-Star Game three times (2015, 2016, 2020).
Mark Giordano will have a new defense partner this season.
The Calgary Flames captain played regularly with TJ Brodie on the top pair over the past six seasons, but Brodie signed a four-year, $20 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 9.
Giordano said the ultimate decision on his new partner will be up to coach Geoff Ward and the coaching staff but believes it’s likely to come down to two options, each attractive.
One would be Christopher Tanev, who signed a four-year, $18 million contract with the Flames on Oct. 9. The 30-year-old played the past 10 seasons with the Vancouver Canucks.
The other would be Rasmus Andersson. The 24-year-old has played some games as Giordano’s partner during his first two full NHL seasons.
“We’ve brought in Chris Tanev and it’s huge for our team,” Giordano said. “He’s a really solid guy who plays a lot like [Brodie]. Playing against him, you realize how reliable he is defensively. I don’t think he’s ever gotten the credit he deserves for how he moves the puck and can make plays under pressure in his own zone.
“[Andersson] is a guy who’s taken huge steps in the last couple of years and somebody I’ve already played with some. I think he’s really ready to take on that role as a top-pairing guy in the League. I’m excited, whoever it’s going to be. It’ll all come down to chemistry at the end of the day. Me and [Andersson] have played a little bit so we’re obviously familiar with each other. I’m assuming we’ll try different things out if there are exhibition games at the start of the season.”
Giordano led the Flames with an average of 23:53 ice time per game and scored 31 points (five goals, 26 assists) in 60 games last season when Calgary was 36-27-7 (.564 points percentage) in the regular season, defeated the Winnipeg Jets in four games in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers and lost to the Dallas Stars in six games in the Western Conference First Round.
He said he will miss Brodie, but that change is part of life in the NHL.
“Losing [Brodie] was tough for me personally,” Giordano said. “He’s a good friend, was a good teammate for a lot of years and we had a good relationship. It was tough to see him go but in saying that, I’m happy for him, signing a great contract in Toronto.”
Here are Five Questions with … Mark Giordano:
When the season starts, at age 37, it looks like you’ll be among the 10 oldest players in the League. So what’s in the future for Mark Giordano?
“Every year that goes by, as you get older, you realize how hard it is to win and that the opportunity gets smaller and smaller. So for me, it’s about trying to get back to the playoffs and win again. Personally, the main things I’ve been working on in this offseason are quickness and speed and keeping up with the speed of the game. I’m looking forward to another fresh start to the season, and I’m feeling really good right now. I’m looking forward to this next season. Hopefully we’ll get in as many games as possible and we’ll go from there.”
We’re into November and the season has not begun. How odd has this offseason been for you and how does the delay affect your training?
“What we’ve done here in Calgary is that we’re training hard and skating three or four days a week, but we’ve been leaving [our schedule] up to our [training staff] and we’ve been taking a week of rest here and there, just to give your body the opportunity to reset and heal and stay fresh. That was the one issue I know I had before the 2012-13 season (that was delayed by a lockout), that you can almost burn yourself out training for too long before the season. What you want to do usually, when you’re coming into camp in September, you want to lead up to that, peak when you get to camp. Not knowing when camp is going to be has made it kind of hard to do that, so taking those weeks of rest have really helped both physically and mentally.”
General manager Brad Treliving has been aggressive again in the offseason. How do you see the changes that have been made?
“Ever since he’s been the GM, he’s done a lot for our team. He’s made our team a lot better. He’s been willing to make those tweaks and even some big moves if he feels it’s going to help. This year, the No. 1 guy out there on the market, in my opinion, was Jacob Markstrom, as far as impact players go and goaltending probably being the most important position on the team. We feel like we got the guy on the market, which is awesome. Not only did we get him, but we got a very underrated guy in Chris Tanev. And then bringing in guys like Josh Leivo and Joakim Nordstrom. … I’ve trained with Josh before in Toronto, know him well and what kind of player he is. He can move the puck and find those spots, and I think he can be a scorer. Nordstrom is hard to play against and he’s really good on the penalty kill, so when we lost [free agent Tobias] Rieder [to the Buffalo Sabres], that was an important position to fill. So [Treliving] has done a great job. I like the mix we have. I like the depth we have, especially at forward, and I think we’re going to be a tough team to match up against. It’s going to be interesting and obviously exciting, waiting now for the season to start. The anticipation is killing us.”
What’s your takeaway from last season?
“I think we did a lot of good things after the pause. We had a really good camp. Our coaches put together a really good camp before we went into the bubble. Obviously we were happy with the way things went against Winnipeg. I thought we were really competitive, played really hard and we carried that over into the Dallas series. But it was another hard lesson, a big momentum change when we were up late in Game 4 but they tied the game with 12 seconds left and ended up winning in overtime. That’s how close our league is. We had the opportunity to go up 3-1 there and instead they grabbed that game from us and really didn’t look back. I thought we did a lot of good things but there’s another lesson for our group, and in the end it was disappointing to go out as early as we did.”
As a winner of the Mark Messier award, your leadership has been recognized. How is leadership changing as the NHL has been trending younger in recent years?
“It used to be an older league and the veteran guys were the ones you looked up to in the room. Those were the guys you listened to. It was a different atmosphere in terms of the age difference. Now, if you look around the League, the superstars, a lot of them are under 25. In my opinion, in order to be a star, you need to be a leader as well. A lot of these guys are. As far as I go, I leave a lot of responsibility to our young guys. Guys who are our best players are all young, lower 20s to mid-20s, and you need to be able to put some responsibility on them to lead. That’s changed big time. In saying that, you don’t want to lose the respect and the seniority that our game does have. Those dynamics are important to keep in the game. Young guys should have respect for guys who have been around a long time, but it’s changing in some ways because many young guys are the best players on their teams. Before, the 30-year-olds were the guys who played the most and the guys who led the team.”