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Captain Giordano leading Flames on all fronts

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- Captain Mark Giordano has found more than one way to lead the Calgary Flames.

The 31-year-old not only serves as the focal point for Calgary's leadership contingent, the defenseman is at the forefront of the Flames offense. It doesn't stop there for Giordano though. The product of Toronto not only leads the Flames in points, he's tops among all NHL defensemen with 20.

Which leaves but one adjective, albeit a surprising one, for Calgary coach Bob Hartley to describe his leader.

"Boring," Hartley said before cracking a smile.

Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano leads NHL defensemen in points this season, all part of setting a positive example for the team's younger players. (Photo: Gerry Thomas/NHLI)

"He's the perfect example. He's a great mirror. I always enjoy sitting with him. I know we can always count on him. I've said it many times. In Denver, they were calling Joe Sakic 'Ordinary Joe.' Maybe over here we have 'Simple Gio.'"

But Giordano has been anything but boring. With no Flames forward among the NHL's top-40 in points, Giordano has stepped up to take on an ever-increasing role. His six goals and 14 assists lead fellow defenseman TJ Brodie's 15 points. Jiri Hudler, Calgary's top scoring forward, has 14 points.

Somehow, the Flames are third in the NHL in goals scored heading into action Saturday. The answer to "how" lies with Giordano.

"I feel like I've always been a guy who tries to create some offense," said Giordano, who brings an eight-game point streak into the Flames' game against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. "I've played power play a lot in my career. With our style of play and the way our forwards backtrack and create turnovers, it helps us jump in the play. If you look at our D-core as a whole, we all try to jump in and create. I think we've done a pretty good job of that this year.

"We have to keep providing that offense, that second wave for our team. That's a good way to score goals in this League now. It's tough to score off the rush, 3-on-2s or 3-on-3s. You need that defenseman jumping in."

Giordano jumps more than most. He's set the example for how others can do it too.

"He's helped me a lot," said Brodie, who's third in points among NHL defensemen. "Even when we weren't playing with each other, he's the type of guy that you can watch him on and off the ice and learn from him. There's things that I've had to take out of his game and put in my game. I think that's helped. Playing with him, he's always open and he always wants the puck, which is nice.

"We sort of think alike offensively and we always want to jump in and be ready. It's been nice playing with a guy like that."

With forwards Mikael Backlund (abdomen), Joe Colborne (upper body), Matt Stajan (knee) and Mason Raymond (shoulder) all on injured reserve with no immediate timetable for projected returns, Giordano insists there's no pressure to produce.

Quite the opposite, he claims.


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"I really don't [feel pressure]. I expect myself to try to create and jump in when I can," Giordano said. "I feel more pressure honestly to stop goals from going in our net. Playing against other teams' top-two lines most nights, you have to be ready for them to create offense and get their chances. What me and [Brodie] have tried to do on our end is try to go the other way and play in their end. You know they're going to get one here and there, but our goal is to try to get one the other way so it evens out."

Still, Giordano's effect is easily quantified. With 20 points on 55 goals, he's factored in on 36 percent of Calgary's offense to date.

What can't be measured is the impact he's had on a rebuilding team that currently sits ninth overall in the NHL standings with a 10-6-2 record through 18 games.

"He's a good person; he's an unbelievable person," Hartley said. "He cares about everything. If I'd ask Gio for a list to rate the players as importance on the team, I'm sure Gio's name would be at the bottom of that sheet. He's all about team. It's all about taking care of the teammates, about the organization, and that's what we want to create.

"We want to be more than a team. We want to be a family. He's the best big brother that we can have in the locker room."

And the perfect candidate to set the tone for a rebuilding team that finished 27th a year ago. Not that Giordano will admit it.

"I'm trying to just do everything I can on the ice," he said. "It's easy for you to say things in the room and all that, but if you're not contributing on the ice or doing what you're saying on the ice, I know as a young guy it'd be tough to follow someone who you didn't believe.

"I just try to go out there and the best way to lead, I think, is by example on the ice."

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