Giordano returns to Calgary for first time with Kraken in preseason game

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CALGARY — Mark Giordano will return to Calgary with the Seattle Kraken for the first time when they visit the Calgary Flames in a preseason game at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET; KONG).

Giordano, who had played his entire 15-year career with the Flames after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2004, was claimed by the Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft on July 21. 

“It’s different, for sure, coming in the other side,” the 37-year-old defenseman said Wednesday. “I mean, just getting out on the ice … obviously a lot of familiar faces around here. It’ll be different, but looking forward to playing the boys over there.”

Giordano, who had been Calgary’s captain since the start of the 2013-14 season, scored 509 points (143 goals, 366 assists) in 949 regular-season games with the Flames, including 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) in 56 games last season, and has scored seven points (one goal, six assists) in 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games. 

He led Calgary in average ice time in seven of the past eight seasons, including last season, when he played 22:57 per game.

“I’ve developed so many relationships. I grew up as an adult here,” Giordano said. “The thing that I would want them to remember me as, playing well or playing poorly, I gave it my all every shift and every night and I’ll continue to do that. That’s one thing I hope they remember me as. 

“I have so many different memories of this city and good times on and off the ice. It’s a special place, obviously, for my family and I. A lot of great people. I’ve developed relationships in this city, for sure.”

Giordano won the Norris Trophy voted as the best defenseman in the NHL in 2018-19, when he scored an NHL career-high 74 points (17 goals, 57 assists). 

He also won the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, presented to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities on and off the ice and who plays a leading role in his community growing the game of hockey, in 2019-20.

“It’s going to be weird, of course,” said Flames forward Mikael Backlund, the longest tenured Calgary player at 744 games over 13 seasons. “It was weird coming back and Gio wasn’t here. He’s been here the whole time I’ve been here, been a big part of the group since my Day One. We definitely miss him in the group — such a great guy and a leader. 

“It’s going to be weird to play against him. Never done it. But it will also be fun to see him out there and finally play against him, I guess, after all these years. He always said, ‘Oh, imagine if we played against each other, I would beat you’ and all that stuff. Just a little bit of fun.” 

Seattle will visit Calgary for the first time in the regular season Dec. 23. 

“Tonight’s going to be pretty cool, but the regular season one … I’m sure it’ll be a full building, just a lot of memories,” Giordano said. “I think it’s going to be weird for sure tonight coming in here. I’m actually glad to get one under my belt here early in my time in Seattle here, and then the one in December will be special.

“I think that night is going to be pretty special regardless, but it’s nice to get out here, see some of the guys, see some of the coaches over there and say hello.”

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