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ALL-TIME ALL-STARS - GIORDANO

One of the best Flames ever, both on and off the ice, Giordano embodies work ethic, leadership and dedication

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

They are the best of the best in Calgary Flames history.

Over 24 days we will profile our All-Time All-Stars (listed alphabetically at each position). Make sure to check back daily to see who's getting the nod. Click here to see all players already selected:

 

Pick a generation.

Any generation.

"This guy here could've played at any time,'' praised the oracle, Al MacNeil, watching the morning skate as Mark Giordano readied to reach his milestone 700th game a while back,

"In any era.

"He's not only tough. He's tough-minded.

"There's a humility to him. He's proud to have played 700 games, but he understands what it took for him to get here. He'll never lose sight of that."

As the years pass, Giordano continues to further entrench himself in any list of the greatest-ever Flames. Through utter dependability, the push to excel, the sheer quality day-to-day-ness of the endeavour.

"The word that best describes him,'' assistant GM Craig Conroy once said, "is professionalism. Gio's a pro's pro."

Right down to the bottom of his skate blades.

This past season, he crept past Jim Peplinski and Joel Otto into fifth place on the franchise career games-played list. Icons invested with the shimmer of Theo Fleury and Al MacInnis are directly ahead, within reach when regular-season festivities re-commence in October.

Among the fittest athletes in the game at 34, he's gone over the past dozen years from undrafted free-agent signing to bit player to reliable soldier to franchise stalwart.

When a fellow D-man is struggling for form, partner him up with No. 5 to help right the ship. When a goal is needed or a lead defended, well, who ya gonna call? When a young guy needs an example to follow, there's the perfect case-study sitting just across the room.

"A good captain of a hockey team,'' reckoned former Flames' coach Bob Hartley, "is like a good captain on a boat. You recognize the value of a good captain on the water when the ocean goes crazy a little bit; in the middle of a storm. Anyone can be a captain when the sea is calm. The captain should bring poise, an element of calm.

"Gio is our compass.

"He empties himself every game. Not a drop left."

That pretty much nails it.

In an age of ever-encroaching specialization, he's grown through experience and inner drive into a refreshing throwback: the all-purpose hybrid defenceman of yore. 

Outletting the puck. Joining the rush. Logging the decisive shifts; entrusted in the late minutes. Dropping fearlessly in front of 100 mph bee-bees. Powerplay. Penalty-kill. Wallpapering interlopers. Even shucking the mitts, if need be.

There have been easier gigs than succeeding Jarome Iginla as captain but Giordano, when the time came in September of 2013, stepped into a daunting role with consummate ease.

A torn bicep sustained in New Jersey 61 games into the 2014-2015 season undoubtedly cost him one of the three Norris Trophy finalist berths and maybe even the big prize itself.

Giordano has, as everyone knows, along with wife Lauren, become a leading light in this city, as well as in the arena. For those tireless services via Team Giordano, in July of last year he was awarded ESPN's Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award for services to community.

"The reason Gio's so good,'' said one-time teammate Alex Tanguay a number of years ago, "is because of who he is, what he does, how much he cares.

"The way he plays, with a lot of emotion and aggressiveness, is what makes him so effective. We wouldn't want him any other way."

Words that hold as true today as they did back then.

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