I'm really excited. Growing up I got to watch a ton of the players that are going to be there. I’m really excited just to be a part of that weekend. - Johnny Gaudreau
CALGARY, AB -- It’s not an All-Star break for all.
Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano and rookie Johnny Gaudreau will head to Columbus, OH on Jan. 23-25 to represent the Calgary Flames at the NHL All-Star Weekend.
“I’m really excited,” Gaudreau said. “Growing up I got to watch a ton of the players that are going to be there. I’m really excited just to be a part of that weekend. Watching these guys, they’ve been pros for a while now and this is my first season here. It’ll be good for me to watch these guys and see how they take it all in.”
As one of six rookies named to the event, Gaudreau will participate in the 2015 NHL All-Star Skills Competition. Second amongst all blueliners in points, Giordano earned a full ride to the event.
It’s the first time attending, in any capacity, for both members of the Flames.
“I think it’s going to be exciting for me,” Giordano said. “I’ll try and have some family down there and friends I think. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never been. I’m looking forward to the whole experience and representing our team.”
Though he won’t really admit it, the trip serves as a bit of validation for the 31-year-old.
From undrafted to captain, it’s been a journey for Giordano.
“Sometimes you do, you step back and it’s put into perspective,” he said. “Throughout my career I take a lot of pride in getting better every year. The last couple of years have been good. Having me and [TJ Brodie] playing together, we’ve developed some good chemistry and that’s been huge for myself personally.
“Looking at it in the big picture it’s pretty cool.”
Also worthy. Both nods.
“It’s very deserving,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “It’s great to have two of our players there. I’ve been personally in two and it’s the cream of the NHL. The world’s greatest players are at the All-Star Game. It’s a fun time. For Gio and Johnny, it’s their first experience so I’m sure they’re going to represent our organization with lots of pride as usual. It’s a great recognition for both of them.”
His first League event, Gaudreau plans to use it as a learning experience.
Surrounded by plenty of players he grew up idolizing, the 21-year-old veteran of just 43 National Hockey League games plans to take it all in.
“I’m sure there’s going to be a little bit of learning and fun as well,” he said. “Watching these guys, they’ve been pros for a while now and this is my first season here. It’ll be good for me to watch these guys and see how they take it all in.
“Definitely going to be nervous. It’s guys that have been in these All-Star Games five, six times and I’m just going as a rookie.”
While Gaudreau’s eyes will be on others, all other eyes will be on the reigning Hobey Baker Award winner when it comes to his participation. The dynamic freshman will be front and center with skills on display. Where that is has yet to be determined.
But Giordano knows where he wants to see his teammate.
“They’ve got to put him in something to do with stickhandling, I think,” he said. “He’s one of the best.”
Gaudreau has different thoughts in mind.
“I’m not sure what ones there are but the ones I like the most are probably the shootouts and targets,” he said.
“I’m just excited to head there and whatever I’m in it’ll be fun.”