"It means a lot": Mark Giordano returns to a salute tonight in Calgary

Seattle Kraken v Anaheim Ducks

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 15: Mark Giordano #5 of the Seattle Kraken looks on during the second period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on December 15, 2021 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)Photo: Getty Images

Defenseman Mark Giordano’s walk into Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday morning was nothing but ordinary. 

Yes, he’s faced his former Calgary Flames teammates. Twice. Including one pre-season stop in Calgary. 

This one is different. 

Amidst the regular season pomp and circumstance for a hero’s welcome, devoid of such theatrics in pre-season play, and attached to 15 seasons of blood, sweat, and tears in a Calgary Flames jersey, Giordano will be honored tonight around the 7:00pm PT puck drop when the Kraken battle the Flames, the only two teams in Giordano’s NHL career that he knows as his own. 

“It’s always going to feel a bit weird coming in on the other side after being here for so long,” said Giordano, who will be honored with a video tribute in the venue. 

“It means a lot,” said Giordano. “I came in here as a young guy not knowing what the NHL was all about and the city. I felt like I put in every night, as much as I can into the game. I think the fans respect that and really showed me support in my career.”  

After playing over 900 games in a Flames jersey, Calgary can be a difficult place to hide. Giordano, who belted a Norris Trophy campaign three years ago with a career high 74 points in 78 games and helping lead the Flames to a playoff berth, said he was spotted multiple times at dinner by local residents when heading out with teammates. 

“I had to remind people I wasn’t on the team anymore,” Giordano joked.  

The Kraken will aim to rally around their captain, in the final year of his six-year deal he originally signed with the Flames before the 2015-16 season, for three wins in four road games and in the second matchup. Calgary beat the Kraken, 6-4, in Seattle on December 30.

Giordano scored a goal in that game against his former teammates. 

The Flames have taken off, winning eight in a row while outscoring opponents 37-13 during the streak while ascending to first place in the Pacific Division, two points ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights. 

“The team we’re playing tonight doesn’t give up very much,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “They’re hard to handle on the inside. Whether that’s coming in off entry or in our own D-zone coverage, the critical area in the slot and at the net are areas we have to be hard and determined.” 

Calgary leads the Western Conference and is second in the NHL with 36.1 shots per game. Johnny Gaudreau, also in a contract year, leads the Flames with 63 points in 47 games and is tied for second with 43 assists. 

Philipp Grubauer, looking to bounce back from a 5-3 loss Thursday at Winnipeg, will start in net against Jacob Markstrom for Calgary. 

“We’re getting great goaltending from (Markstrom) and we’re getting back to our identity,” said Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin. 

“We’re been home for a while and we’ve discussed before this home stretch of taking advantage it, being homers, and making it a hard place to play.” 

Calgary is 5-0 on their current seven-game homestand, wrapping up Monday against Winnipeg. 

NOTES: Hakstol confirmed Carson Soucy and Morgan Geekie will be scratched, replaced by Haydn Fleury and Austin Czarnik … Flames center Mikael Backlund is scheduled to play in the 792nd game of his career tonight, surpassing Theo Fleury for fifth all-time in Flames history. 

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