Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames won the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award on Sunday, presented to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities on and off the ice and who plays a leading role in his community growing the game of hockey.
"This is special. I'm a little bit older (36), so I grew up watching Mark Messier as a player and remembering him, especially from his days as a Ranger, winning the Stanley Cup with New York, but also in Edmonton (with the Oilers) as well," Giordano said. "To have my name on that award means a lot, a ton to me. When you think of leadership, he's viewed as the ultimate leader in our sport. I've had the chance to meet him off the ice as well, and for what he's done off the ice and in the community as a leader, I think he has that presence that you can't describe. To be associated with him and his award, it means a lot to me and my family. We're very proud today to be the recipient, for sure.
"... It's pretty special too that Jarome Iginla was a guy who won this award back when I was a young guy (in 2009). Obviously, coming into Calgary not being drafted by the team or anything like that, just coming in pretty raw and pretty fresh, [Iginla] was the captain here. You can't say enough good things about [Iginla]. On the ice, obviously, his accomplishments speak for themselves. But for the people who have never met him, the way he treats people off the ice is something I really looked up to."
Giordano partnered with the Calgary Board of Education in 2014 to launch Team Giordano to promote improved physical fitness and academics, as well as leadership development, at five high-needs schools. The initiative has raised $400,000 and impacted the lives of 2,900 students. Giordano also participated in other community endeavors, including the Flames literacy program, the You Can Play Project, and the Calgary Pride Parade. He's also an ambassador for inclusion access and development of hockey through Calgary Flames Foundation programming.
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Giordano, who won the Norris Trophy voted as the best defenseman in the NHL in 2018-19, has played 893 games in 14 NHL seasons, all with the Flames.
"I grew up here in Calgary, basically," the 36-year-old Toronto native said. "I came here at a pretty young age. My wife, Lauren, and I have always been a couple who wants to give back. We feel like this community and this city has given so much to us. We wouldn't be where we are today in our lives if it wasn't for the city of Calgary, the people of Calgary. We really wanted to get involved in the community and give back, and I think [Team Giordano] has obviously enabled us to do that."
Giordano scored 31 points (five goals, 26 assists) in 60 regular-season games this season and helped the Flames advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when they lost to the Dallas Stars in six games in the Western Conference First Round.
Giordano, who was a finalist for the Mark Messier Award last season, won the NHL Foundation Player Award in 2015-16, which was given to the NHL player who best demonstrated commitment, perseverance and teamwork to enrich the lives of people in his community. The award was discontinued for the 2017-18 season.
"The Mark Messier Leadership Award not only focuses on what the players are doing and their great capabilities on the ice, but maybe more importantly what they're doing in their leadership capabilities off the ice to inspire young boys and girls to fulfill their dreams and to help grow the game in their own communities," Messier said.
The 2020 NHL Awards had been scheduled for June 18 in Las Vegas but were postponed March 25 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.