We’ve played against a lot of teams and give some of those other guys credit, they’re good D-men but it’s hard to find a guy who’s all-round game is so sound. If he doesn’t get a legitimate shot at making the team then I think he got the short end of the stick. - Joe Colborne
CALGARY, AB -- There will be plenty of hopefuls waiting by the phone when Canada announces its roster for the Olympics on January 7th.
Mark Giordano won’t be among them.
Though he wants to be a part of Canada’s entry at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi as much as any, the Calgary Flames captain admitted he’s not expecting a call to ask for his participation.
“I don’t think I’m in the same boat as some guys who expect to make the roster or stuff like that,” Giordano said. “I’m not even really thinking about it to be honest because I consider myself a long shot.”
Though he doesn’t boast a flashy resume with a long list of contributions on the international stage having skated in just one IIHF World Championship (2010) and a Spengler Cup (2007), Giordano has steadily been Calgary’s top player this season and has quietly put together a impressive year on a rebuilding Flames squad.
The Calgary rearguard has five goals and 17 points in 20 games this season while averaging 25:06 a game patrolling the blue line -- the 15th busiest skater in the league. His points-per-game pace would make him the second-most productive Canadian defenseman in the NHL this season had he not missed 18 games with a broken ankle from Oct. 22nd to Nov. 20th.
In fact, if Giordano had remained healthy and managed to maintain his output, he’d trail only Swedish blueliner Erik Karlsson and fellow Canadian Duncan Keith in points.
“I think that’s a little bit because I missed a couple months there, right?” Giordano questioned. “A lot of other guys have played a lot more games and it’s tough. I do feel good right now and I have to continue that.”
Though Giordano’s season was disrupted with the injury, his offense hasn’t been.
In eight games to start the season, the 30-year-old notched two goals and seven assists. Since returning from the broken ankle that sidelined him for a month, Giordano has recorded three goals and eight points.
But as productive as Giordano has been, he’s not getting enough recognition for the likes of teammate Joe Colborne.
“I’ve played with a lot of good players. I’ve played with [Zdeno] Chara, I’ve played with Dion [Phaneuf] and Gio is, if not as good as those guys, he’s better,” Colborne said. “He’s incredible. He’s such a calming influence for us. It seems like he doesn’t make mistakes. When the odd time he will, everyone on the bench goes, ‘Did that just happen?’ We’re in shock.
“He’s so steady and so underrated. How this guy isn’t a full-blown superstar in this league where he’s getting all the press and everything like some of the other D, it’s incredible. I don’t know how he’s kept it so quiet.”
That’s slowly changing.
Flames coach Bob Hartley admitted it’s been difficult keeping Giordano’s impressive play under the radar this season.
“I think it’s growing,” Hartley said. “People around the league are finding out more about Gio. Over the past years, I think he’s established himself as a very dependable defenseman for us, basically the heart of our team.
“Now with the C, not that it changed his game, but he has more visibility. We’re in a great market to have that visibility. I think it’s a combination of where he’s playing and how he’s performing for us. He’s unbelievable.”
Hartley’s used Giordano in every situation imaginable this season. He’s flourished with every challenge.
In any role, Giordano can be a big benefit to Canada, Calgary’s coach believes.
“If Team Canada would be looking at him as a 5-6 or as an extra defenseman, Gio, whether he plays five minutes or 20 minutes, it would be the same preparation,” Hartley said. “That’s what he brings to the game and I’m certainly hoping that he gets a Canadian jersey on his back.
“I know that he would love to represent the country and be part of the Olympics but there’s many great defensemen. We’ll let the people in charge make those decisions.”
If Colborne had a vote in the process, Giordano would be packing his bags for Sochi come February.
“He should be on the team, in my opinion," he said. "We’ve played against a lot of teams and give some of those other guys credit, they’re good D-men but it’s hard to find a guy who’s all-round game is so sound. If he doesn’t get a legitimate shot at making the team then I think he got the short end of the stick.”
The humble Giordano shrugged off the suggestion, again weighing his odds of earning his way onto the entry.
“That’s a tough team to make,” he said. “If I was an outsider I’d consider myself a long shot.”