Features / Calgary / Flames Up Close

Ep. 6: FLAMES UP CLOSE with Ryan Leslie, guest Mark Giordano

Undrafted, Giordano refused to give up, determined to make the NHL.

Mark Giordano #5 of the Calgary Flames skates with the puck past Daniel Sedin #22 of the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on December 23, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Derek Leung/Getty Images

Mark Giordano #5 of the Calgary Flames skates with the puck past Daniel Sedin #22 of the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on December 23, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

By now, most Flames fans  know at least a little about Mark Giordano's journey to the NHL.

Undrafted, he refused to give up, determined to make the NHL. But like all journeys, it's the stops along the way that prove to be the real story.  I sat down with the once little Italian kid from North York to the now captain of the Calgary Flames to discuss some of those stories you may not have heard...

To get a sense of the person he is today, you have to go back to the beginning.

Admittedly a quiet kid, Giordano grew up surrounded by family, including two sisters. His domain was the basement where he would strap on the rollerblades and play hockey by himself while at the same time be calling his own game doing his best Bob Cole announcing impersonation.

He found solace in his grandfather's farm, north of Toronto, where he would marvel at, and hope to emulate one day, living off the land, so-to-speak, and cook delicious Italian meals.

There was the world-turned-upside-down moment of playing junior in small town Owen Sound, away from his family for the first time, living with a non Italian billet. Complete culture shock. A good kid.  Good student. But in a new world.  It was there he figured out the hard way, just how important conditioning and fitness really were.  And he dedicated his life to it.

In the podcast we talked about the first time he ever flew in a plane and how he didn't know you couldn't bring skates in your carry on.   We also touch on the family tragedy of when he lost one of his sisters and how it made him stronger personally and professionally.

Giordano tells some great stories when he went to Russia before he became a Flames mainstay. Like the time his team over there was on a losing streak. They fired the coach.  Someone suggested that coaches wife put a hex on the team as a result.   So the players packed up their sticks and took them to a Russian church where their sticks were finally "blessed." And the losing streak was, in turn, snapped.

The defensemen also opens up about those moments where, along with his then-fiancée, now-wife Lauren, they shared doubts from a couch in Russia, if the NHL dream would ever happen.  They were a long way from home.

But as we know now, they did.  And boy did they ever.  From humble beginnings to fatherhood to wearing the 'C' on the flaming C and all of the fanfare, rewards and responsibility that goes with it.

Something the humble Italian kid from Toronto refuses to take for granted.

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