Mr. Everything: Giordano becomes Flames' first defender to win the Norris Trophy



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The Calgary Flames have known this for a long time.

Wednesday's news on the Mandalay Bay stage in Las Vegas confirmed this.

But to receive final recognition as the best advocate for the National Hockey League – the 2019 Norris Trophy – has taken years of relentless determination and a dog-a-bone craving to be the best.

Undrafted in the Ontario Hockey League.

Undrafted in National Hockey League.

Formerly underestimated, Mark Giordano became the first rearguard in the history of the Flames franchise to win the prize. In an overwhelming way too. He received 96 percent of the vote in the first place (165-of-171) and was elected the first team of all stars.

At 35 years of age.

"I feel young," he said, a vision in a three-piece suit of wine-color, to end his speech of acceptance. "I feel fresh."

One statement, of course, his fellow 20s found it hilarious.

"I finished with that note, and the boys back home let me hear about it," Giordano laughed afterward, calling the cell phone on the red carpet. "I got messages from Chucky, Benny and all the young people. They have sent me "fresh and new" texts.

Age is just a number, anyway.

In addition, at age 35 and earning the Norris Trophy, Giordano joined an impressive company.

The last time a 35 year old blueliner won the award was Nicklas Lidstrom in 2005-06 – and Detroit Red Wings legend won three more times thereafter. Al MacInnis also won the 35 years in 1998-99 with the St. Louis Blues. To find another 35-year-old winner before then, you'd have to remember 1961-62 when seven-time winner Doug Harvey captured him as a member of the New York Rangers. He was 37 years old.

Heck … Giordano does not feel a day over the big 3-0.

"Since I've been 30, I feel the same. I felt good, "he said. "I think I have a lot of energy and I have a lot to offer. I look forward to next year already.

The 833 Giordano regular season games are second in the Flames record books in all games played.

He is also just the fifth blueliner in league history to record a 60-point season at age 35, joining Ray Bourque, Lidstrom, MacInnis and Sergei Zubov as the other members of that exclusive club.

This is a guy who was cut out of the Phoenix Coyotes beginner's camp and had originally planned to go to university before the Called Call.

"You gain confidence as you get older and believe more in yourself. But the ups and downs I went through and where I am now … is really cool, "Giordano said. "Really cool, really. I am with many friends and family (at the NHL Awards). It means a lot that everyone is here, everyone that has helped me a lot. I've had a lot of thoughts about the guys I've played with and teammates I've played over the years.

"They played a part in that as well."

The definition of the Norris Trophy states that the award is given to the defender voted to have demonstrated the "greatest overall ability in the position throughout the season".

The Flames captain did this – and then some – in 2018-19.

Finishing fifth in the team's score this season, a career year, he also came in second in the standings among NHL supporters and averaged 0.95 points per game. Giordano scored four goals in the lead among the defenders and had 21 points of power. He finished fifth in the blueliners with 221 shots on the net.

The Toronto native was within two points of having doubled his total points last season, going from 38 points (13 goals and 25 assists) to 74 points (17 goals and 57 assists).

Saying, too, was his league more-less leader – 39.

And while his team finished first in the Western Conference during the regular season but was sent off in the first round of the playoff by the Colorado Avalanche, it was not Giordano's fault. In fact, he finished ninth in the Hart Trophy vote.

"Arriving there, it was very stressful, talking in front of everyone," Giordano said of his acceptance speech, in which he also thanked the Flames organization. "But it was a really cool experience, and I was looking down and the family was right there. You can see the emotion on their faces.

"It was very cool."

At the awards, he was joined by his wife, Lauren, his sister, his brother-in-law and his parents. Giordano also went to the Mark Messier Leadership Award on Wednesday, proof of his contributions in the Calgary community along with Lauren.

All recognition is well deserved.

But his contributions to the Flames go far beyond statistics.

"In the locker room, I sit next to him and everyone listens and stops talking when he says something," said Matthew Tkachuk, Flames frontman at the end of the season. "The way he can understand a room, the way he can relate to everyone … is very, very impressive."

So striking that, in Travis Hamonic's mind, there is only one way of quantifying what Giordano does.

"Everything, you know?" Said blueliner Flames, who follows the captain in the rotation on the team's second pair. "I have been saying for a long time that he is the best defender of the game. He has to be the best leader. He's a cool person, on and off the ice. You see all the year he does on the ice. In practice. In games. The season he's had is crazy. It only means a lot to our group, our team, this organization, the city …

"He's Mr. Everything for us."

In fact, Mr. Everything – and now the 2019 Norris Trophy winner – has been the favorite for most of the 2018-19 campaign. Giordano led the mid-season polls by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, which was a fairly decent perception of how he is seen throughout the league.

The final count on Wednesday confirmed that.

"If you had asked me at the beginning of the season, if I was one of the nominees, I probably would have said 'no'," Giordano said earlier in the week. "I mean, there are so many great defenders. If you look at our league, especially with the Norris, it's one of the hardest things to get an indication because there are so many quality defense teams at all times. I do not know. It's kind of … I still look at these guys. Sidney Crosby. Connor McDavid. I still look at them like guys who are in a league of their own, right? So to be on the awards and be nominated for a prize alongside them, it's cool to be honest. "

On Wednesday, Giordano beat compatriot Brent Burns, who beat Norris in 2017 and is the heart of San Jose Sharks, and Victor Hedman, from the Tampa Bay Lightning rear who won last year.

Also for the Mark Messier Award was Wayne Simmonds, who split the time between the Nashville Predators and the Philadelphia Flyers, and Carolina Hurricanes captain Justin Williams with Simmonds winning the award.

Around the red carpet

The Flame Center Sean Monahan finished third in the vote for Lady Byng, which finally went to Ryan O'Reilly's St. Louis Blues …. New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz won the Jack Adams Award, but, interestingly, Bill Peters, the bank's Flames boss, finished fourth and was only outscored by St. Louis Blues coach Craig Berube – who also was Jack Adams finalist. a point … Flames LW Johnny Gaudreau finished fourth in the Hart Trophy by voting as NHL MVP.

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