By now, most Flames fans know at least a little about Mark Giordano's journey to the NHL.
Undrafted, he refused to give up, determined to make the NHL. But like all journeys, it's the stops along the way that prove to be the real story. I sat down with the once little Italian kid from North York to the now captain of the Flames to discuss some of those stories you may not have heard.
To get a sense of the person he is today, you have to go back to the beginning. Admittedly a quiet kid, Giordano grew up surrounded by family including two sisters. His domain was the basement, where he would strap on the rollerblades and play hockey by himself while at the same time be calling his own game doing his best Bob Cole impersonation.
He would find solace at his grandfather's farm north of Toronto where he would marvel at - and hopes to emulate one day - living off the land, so to speak, and learn to cook delicious Italian meals.
There was the complete world-turning-upside-down moment of playing junior in small town Owen Sound away from his family for the first time living with a non-Italian billet. It was a complete culture shock.
He was a good kid and solid student, but in a new world. It was there he figured out the hard way, just how important conditioning and fitness really were. And he dedicated his life to it.
In the podcast we talk about the first time he ever flew in a plane and how he didn't know you couldn't bring skates in your carry on. We also touch on the family tragedy when he lost one of his sisters and how it made him stronger, both personally and professionally.
Giordano tells some great stories when he went to Russia before he became a Flames mainstay. Like the time his team over there was on a losing streak, so they fired the coach. Someone suggested that coach's wife put a hex on the team as a result. So the players packed up their sticks and took them to a Russian church where their sticks were finally "blessed," and the losing streak was, in turn, snapped.
The defenceman also opens up about those moments where, along with his then fiancé and now wife Lauren, they had doubtswhile wondering from a couch in Russia if the NHL dream would ever happen.
But as we know now, those dreams did come true. From humble beginnings, to fatherhood, to wearing the C and all of the fanfare, rewards and responsibility that goes with it.
Something the humble Italian kid from Toronto refuses to take for granted.
(To hear more on Mark Giordano's journey to the NHL, check out the Flames Up Close Podcast by clicking here)