It was an optional skate for the Calgary Flames, a day of rest for some or an opportunity to get some extra work under their belts, skate off cobwebs … whatever.
But for Mark Giordano, there is no ‘optional’ in ‘optional skate.’
Knowing the Flames captain for a few months now, Bill Peters has quickly come to understand this fact about the 35-year-old workhorse — unless you physically force the guy, there’s no chance of getting him off the ice.
Or unless he can’t find his skates …
“I hid ‘em,” recalled the Flames head coach with a sly smile. “We couldn’t mess that up. We didn’t want him on the ice, so I took his skates, and that was it. Then, I had to tell someone right away because I was going to forget where I put them. Then, he wouldn’t have his skates. He wanted to skate and goes, ‘Where are my skates?’ I said, ‘Well … I can’t tell ya because then you’ll go get ’em.’
“He’s that kind of guy.”
Giordano recalled the ultimatum with a chuckle.
“He didn’t leave me much choice, or Depo (head trainer Mark Depasquale) … I didn’t have my skates that day,” Giordano said. “There was nothing you could say, right? They were gone. I just went and got on a bike, I guess.”
Peters remembers a different exchange.
“We had a quick little argument,” Peters said with a grin. “‘Well … I wanna skate’ ‘No, you can’t skate.’ ‘Well … I feel better when I skate.’ ‘Let’s try it this way.’ It’s that kind of conversation.
“He’s not getting any younger, but because he looks after himself, he’s not slowing down either.”
Peters gestured to the Scotiabank Saddledome ice where a few stragglers and healthy scratches were still messing around with the assistant coaches in preparation for Friday’s game against the L.A. Kings.
“He’s out there right now, and we’ll have to kick him out of the pool eventually,” Peters continued. “We want to get him off the ice — he’s going to play 25 minutes (Friday).”
This is not news to locals who have followed Giordano’s ascent to the 2018-19 National Hockey League season, a career that has spanned over 12 seasons — all with the Flames — and a career that started as a humbly, undrafted out of the Ontario Hockey League.
What is newsworthy: the (very early) chatter that has started around the hockey world around Giordano potentially being nominated for this year’s Norris Trophy.
Yes, it’s early.
But Giordano is, once again, playing a calibre of hockey that is defensively sound (a plus-12 before Friday’s game) and offensively productive, scoring three goals and 21 assists in 25 games and sitting fifth in the NHL among blueliners prior to Friday. It’s similar to the type of hockey he was playing in 2014-15 when he finished sixth in Norris Trophy voting — even after missing the last quarter of the Flames season with a biceps tear.
“You talk to everybody around the league and friends that coach in the East(ern) and Western Conference,” Peters said. “You ask who’s playing good and who is doing what. Everyone knows Gio’s story — coming out of the Ontario Hockey League as an undrafted player, went over to Russia … He’s a self-made man.
“So those are great stories, and you know it from that perspective. And you know it from the quality of play each and every night … just a real good pro.”
Giordano is flattered.
But it’s only the beginning of December and there’s a few things to accomplish first.
“There are great players in the league, right?” Giordano said. “But, again, for me, it’s more about No. 1. We want to get this team back in the playoffs. We think we’re a really good team. That’s No. 1. And as an individual, you want to come out and feel good every night and impact the game in a positive way, really. That’s my goal.”
According to Peters, the talk is well deserved.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all, to be honest with you,” Peters said. “He’s a real good player. He’s an unbelievable leader. I’ve had a good pro like him in Nick Lidstrom (when Peters was with the Detroit Red Wings).
“He’s very similar in the way he looks after himself, to Gio.”
The Flames scratched D Dalton Prout, D Juuso Valimaki (lower body) and LW Andrew Mangiapane for Friday night’s game against the Kings. Mangiapane was recalled on Friday from the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League. The 22-year-old has seven goals and seven assists in 13 games played this season.
Note from WSOE.Org : This content has been auto-generated from a syndicated feed.