The main thing if you want to call yourself a leader is to do it on the ice. I know when I was young, I looked up to the best players. The best way to lead is on the ice. - Mark Giordano
CALGARY, AB -- By his own admission, Mark Giordano didn't have the start to the shortened season he envisioned when the work stoppage ended in January.
Giordano -- the longest tenured blueliner on the Calgary Flames -- is hoping to use this summer to springboard into a better beginning next September when he returns to training camp.
"I didn’t have the start I wanted to I think personally," Giordano said. "I think as the season goes on you feel good and you feel better, but definitely looking forward to next year."
The roster Giordano started with this season will look a whole lot different when Calgary returns to regular season action in October. The club shipped out captain Jarome Iginla and fellow defenceman Jay Bouwmeester just before the trade deadline and injected a youthful presence that even Giordano, who has spent parts of seven seasons, has seen with the Flames.
That re-tool, along with plenty of cap space, has Giordano optimistic.
"I think we did a good job of getting a lot of young guys looks in games," he said. "I think our team’s in a good position right now for the summer. We have some cap space. We have owners who are obviously always willing to spend right to the cap here in Calgary, so we’re fortunate as players to be here because it’s an organization that wants to win."
It could be Giordano's team to lead.
Already an assistant captain, the 29-year-old could be looked at to fill the void of Iginla's captaincy. The role has remained vacant after Iginla's departure to the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 27th.
Coach Bob Hartley has no immediate plans to officially pass off the title, which suits Giordano just fine.
"You don’t want to look forward too much," he said. "I just keep doing what I’m doing, playing the same way and whatever comes with it, comes with it. I look at myself as a guy who can be a leader on our team and being an assistant captain for the past couple years, I’ve really enjoyed that role."
Letter or not, Giordano's plan to provide leadership doesn't chance.
"The main thing if you want to call yourself a leader is to do it on the ice," he said. "I know when I was young, I looked up to the best players. The best way to lead is on the ice."
The 6-foot, 203-pound rearguard may have already started to rub off on the club's injection of youth.
The hard work and hustle Giordano has put on display in a Flames' jersey was more than evident in call-ups like Maxwell Reinhart, Ben Street and Mark Cundari, among others.
Giordano will be tasked with ensuring Calgary's next wave of youth continues that effort and builds on it into next season.
"We have to keep moving forward… work ethic in last half of season," he said. "We have to carry that over into next year."
"The hard work and caring about winning, that’s what we have to keep moving forward with.
We played well in that stretch of games because we were keeping things simple and not giving up as many quality scoring chances."
Which will then translate into a faster re-tool, not that Giordano exactly expects one.
"I don’t think we’re going to have a rebuild," he said. "I think the way our owners are all about winning and management and coaches, I think our team’s in a great position if there’s opportunities out there to make moves or whatever … I think our team’s in a great position to do that."
Whatever position the Flames find themselves in come next season, Giordano will be ready to bring all he can when the puck drops.