Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano is coming off a Norris Trophy-winning campaign.

How the heck does a guy follow that up?

By winning another one, obviously,” deadpanned fellow Flames defenceman Rasmus Andersson. “He has it in him. He looks exactly as good as he did last year, if not better.

“I mean, I think he’s going to have a hell of a year, and I really hope and believe he can win it again.”


LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JUNE 19: Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames poses with the James Norris Memorial Trophy awarded to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-around ability in the position during the 2019 NHL Awards at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on June 19, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Not many guys win one.

Even fewer achieve that feat in their mid-30s, like Giordano did, or in such landslide fashion. When members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) cast their ballots, the Flames’ workhorse received a staggering 165 of 171 possible first-place nods.

Giordano is likely still hearing congrats from friends and fans, although he would sooner change the subject. The Norris Trophy nod is, no doubt, a point of pride — the hardware has a prominent place on the mantle in his basement — but he is also wary of getting caught in the past.

“Honestly, for myself, I’m just trying to turn the page now. It’s over. Last year is over,” Giordano said. “That is the mindset you need to have as a player and as a team — just start fresh again.

“Hey, listen, I don’t take it lightly. It’s a pretty special and cool accomplishment. But you can’t just rest on that and think it’s going to carry you for the rest of your career. I have to start fresh this year. Try to do a lot of the same, but the league just keeps getting better and better, so you have to improve in little areas, too.”


Calgary Flames Mark Giordano during the pre-game skate before facing the Vegas Golden Knights in NHL hockey at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Sunday, March 10, 2019. Al Charest/Postmedia

Al Charest/Postmedia

It’ll be tough to improve on 17 goals and 74 points — by far his most productive season in The Show — or on a league-leading plus-39 rating.

“Gio is just going to be Gio. That’s all he has to do for us is just keeping doing what he does,” stressed Flames general manager Brad Treliving. “He doesn’t change too much. And we’re fortunate because you don’t come across athletes and people very often like him, who put in the type of work that he puts in, who are as committed to his craft as Gio is . . .

“So to me, it’s not about having an encore at all. It’s a new season, and just do what he does. He’s the captain of our team. He’s the heartbeat. He’s the moral compass. And he’s a great, shining example to all of our group, of ‘Follow this guy. Follow him.’ I know he’s going to continue to do that, and that’s all we expect of him. And the results will follow, and they do with him. I don’t want him to feel any pressure that he has to live up to anything or to out-do what he did last year.

“We just want him to be Mark Giordano.”

Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk will put up more points and probably sell more sweaters, but make no mistake about this — Giordano is the most important guy on Calgary’s roster.


CALGARY, AB – OCTOBER 6: T.J. Brodie #7 celebrates with Mark Giordano #5 of the Calgary Flames after Giordano scored the Flames’ second goal against the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 6, 2018 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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While the rest of the Saddledome stars are 20-somethings, the window to win is open widest for as long as the captain can maintain his lofty level. Although he seems to be trending north, not south, and once again topped the Flames’ annual fitness-testing results, he does turn 36 on Thursday.

Tick tock.

“He keeps working. That’s the special thing about him — he’s always moving on to the next year and always getting better, which is something I’ve taken away from him,” praised blue-line buddy Noah Hanifin, who was eight when Giordano signed a three-way contract with the Flames in the summer of 2005, beginning his unlikely climb to becoming the NHL’s best defenceman. “Being 35 and winning the Norris Trophy isn’t an easy task to do, but he just shows what hard work is all about and continuing to get better and developing.

It hasn’t changed him a bit.”

Because, ultimately, Giordano’s goals haven’t changed a bit.

It’s a huge honour to be invited to the NHL’s annual awards gala in Las Vegas.


The Calgary Flames Mark Giordano is taken to the ice by the Philadelphia Flyers’ Travis Konecny during NHL action at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Wednesday December 12, 2018. Gavin Young/Postmedia

Gavin Young /

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But earlier in June, far from the red carpet, another trophy is presented.

The guy in the white gloves delivers that shiny prize to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who stands at centre-ice, waits out the boo-birds and hands off the hardware to the captain of the winning team.

From there, a bunch of bruised and bearded men will spin laps of the ice, hoisting it high above their heads, hooting and hollering, many of them weeping like babies.

The Stanley Cup.

You have probably heard of it.

“The post-season ones — the post-season one, I should say — is what you’re looking to win. Everyone is chasing that, every year,” Giordano said. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve won it before or not — everyone is chasing it. For us, we know where we’re at as a team. Now, we have to take that next step in the post-season.”

wgilbertson@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/WesGilbertson

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