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'HE'S HAD A BIG IMPACT'

Calgary captain Giordano claimed by Seattle expansion team

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

Heroes have an impact. 

On the ice, and off. 

Former Flames captain Mark Giordano embodied that quality and what it means to be 'good.' His phenomenal influence went far beyond the 143 goals, 509 points, and 949 career games of faithful service.

He was, over 17 years of unimpeachable mileage, the consummate pro.

Gracious, humble and the ultimate ambassador for city and franchise. 

Tonight, he leaves as one of the greatest, ever, to wear the Flaming C.

"The last 24 hours have been very difficult, very emotional," said General Manager Brad Treliving, following the results of the Seattle Expansion Draf where they selected Giordano.

"We don't have enough time to talk about what Mark Giordano means and has meant to not only this team, but to our community, his teammates, he fans, myself personally and those that have been around him. He's been a tremendous leader, a tremendous person. I've said on countless occasions that he, to me, was the moral compass of this team for a long time.

"Him moving on is the closing of a really important chapter in this franchise."

 

Video: A look back at the captain's great career in Calgary

 

He arrived in the winter of '06.

Undrafted. 

Unknown.

He played seven games that year, recording his first point - an assist - on April 8 against the Canucks. In the 48 laps he took the following campaign, he struck seven times and had 15 helpers - his first two tallies coming on the same night, Oct. 14, in a spirited soiree with the Maple Leafs. 

Five thousand, three hundred and twenty-two days later, he did what will now go down in history: His final goal as a Flame, from the same spot as the first - head up, between the blueline and the faceoff circle, leaning into that 85-flex and kicking his right leg to the heavens for maximum velocity. 

He must have scored 100 of his goals from that spot. 

Each, a reminder of how talented this man is.

At 37, he played in all 56 games this year and led the Flames in ice time at 22:57 per game, winning the inaugural Clayton H. Riddell Award as the team's top rearguard. This, only two years removed from a Norris Trophy-winning campaign that saw him accrue a spellbinding 74 points from the blueline. 

Giordano has played at a high level for a long time. He's gotten better with age, matured as a leader, and inspired every one of his teammates with his competitiveness, gravitas, and commitment to his craft. 

He's worked, he's bled, and he leaves Calgary now with the honour of playing the second-most games in franchise history. 

Along the way, he touched many lives.

 

Video: "The last 24 hours have been very difficult"

 

"To me, the biggest impact Mark has had has been on individuals," Treliving said. "You talk to teammates, talk to coaches, talk to managers, talk to staff - I think he's impacted everybody he's been around. 

"Since I've been here, my first talk to all the young players is, 'When you get to Calgary, you'll see a stall that's got No. 5 on it. Watch what he does. Just do that and you'll be alright.'

"That's the biggest compliment. 

"If you want to follow somebody for how they work, how they prepare, how they commit, how they live - 'Follow that, and if you come pretty close, you'll be alright.' 

"I think he's had a big impact on a lot of people."

Treliving kept Giordano apprised of every detail throughout this process. From late-night talks to more emotional dialogue - "Some days he was consoling me, some days I was consoling him" - the communication was open and transparent. 

In the end, Giordano understood. 

"This tells you everything about the guy," Treliving said. "He's telling me, 'You've got to make the smart play here! Remember, I'm 38 years old.' As much as he was dying to stay here, he looks at the best, long-term interest of the club. Totally selfless, all the time."

 

Video: Giordano made our community a better place

 

As a defenceman, he was elite. 

As a person, top shelf. 

Giordano, like all great players hailed for their off-ice efforts, never demanded the spotlight.  

He did it because he cared. 

About people, teammates and neighbours. 

In 2011, Giordano and his wife, Lauren, launched a unique partnership with Habitat for Humanity to address the issue of affordable housing. The '5-For-5 campaign' led to the construction of five homes, including four in the developing countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, India and the Philippines, and the fifth as part of a stunning five-plex on Sibbald Street in Cochrane.

Giordano supported the initiative by donating $25,000 per season over three years, with the Calgary Flames Foundation matching his efforts for a $150,000 sum.

Still, Giordano has had the greatest impact on thousands of underprivileged kids, whose lives have been enriched with the creation of Team Giordano in 2014. Together with the Calgary Board of Education, and in partnership with the Flames Foundation, the long-running initiative has provided new computers, floor-hockey equipment, school supplies and mentorship programs to low-income schools in our city. 

Giordano has continually supported the cause with various fundraising efforts, partnering with the Calgary Italian Centre for his annual golf tournament, as well as the Team Gio Holiday Gift Box that was in high-demand this past Christmas.

He's also been a longtime supporter of the Flames literacy program Reading … Give it a Shot!, You Can Play Project, and the Calgary Pride Parade.

He was the backbone of this community - a pillar of kindness that exemplified the true talents of a captain. 

A leader.

A friend. 

Together, these initiatives helped Giordano win the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award, NHL Foundation Player Award and Mark Messier Leadership Award.

But it was never, ever about the hardware. 

He was just that 'good.'

"He's a special guy," Treliving said. "And we had a special relationship. 

"The biggest thing with Gio is that he always saw the good in everything and everyone. Even when we were going through tough times, he always believed. He always believed better days were ahead.

"This is the cruel side the business of hockey. I wish him nothing but the very best. 

"And we miss him. 

"Seattle got a great, great man today."

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