Mark the date down.
Saturday, March 5, 2022 at Capital One Arena: a night that Mark Giordano will never forget, when the Seattle Kraken visit the Washington Capitals at 4pm PT (950 KJR / Kraken Audio Network).
Giordano, just like the other 999 times, will be penciled into the lineup to join elite company: one of over 360 players in NHL history to play in 1,000 career games at the highest level of hockey.
“It means a lot,” said Giordano. “It was an up and down journey for me to get into this league, but I feel I put a lot of hard work and years in. Definitely a milestone I’ve been looking forward to and feel a huge sense of accomplishment to be honest.”
He’s got reason to feel an extra sense of it. Giordano was never drafted. At one point he considered shelving pro ambitions at the end of his major junior career with the Owen Sound Attack, enrolling at York University while selecting courses in business and accounting.
That’s when an invite came to Calgary Flames training camp. Fast forward to 1,000 games later, the rest is history, elevating to become captain of the Flames, the Norris Trophy winner in 2018-19, and becoming the first captain in Kraken history.
The 1,000 games club he’s about to join include Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Ray Bourque, Nicklas Lidstrom, Jarome Iginla, Steve Yzerman, and Giordano’s current general manager, Ron Francis.
“Once I passed 900 I felt like, ‘okay, you can get there’,” said Giordano, who will have his sister, Michelle, and other close family members in attendance. “A lot of different things happened in the world, last two to three years, so it’s nice that it’s finally here, the game is finally here, and happy to enjoy it.”
It hasn’t taken head coach Dave Hakstol very long to understand the effect of Giordano’s leadership.
“He’s an absolute model of character, competitiveness,” said Hakstol. “It shows leadership in everything he does. For him and for our team, for his family, this should be a pretty special day.”
As they did to a Stanley Cup contender in the Florida Panthers, the Kraken have their eye on another Eastern Conference sweep tonight – a win will give them two wins in two games against the Capitals, head-to-head this season.
Jaden Schwartz had a first star, four-point game and Jared McCann scored when the Kraken knocked off the Capitals, 5-2 in Seattle on Nov. 21. Both are no longer listed on injured reserve on the Kraken website roster, and have been projected by Hakstol as available to play tonight.
Chris Driedger will start in net for the Kraken, following up a 19-save performance in a 4-3 win over Nashville on Wednesday. Vitek Vanecek, selected by the Kraken in the expansion draft with Driedger, then traded back to Washington swiftly for a second round pick, will start for the Capitals.
Washington starts the day with a healthy lead on the final wild card spot in the East, nine points up on the Columbus Blue Jackets at 29-18-9, but has gone through a rocky stretch at 9-12-1 since New Year’s Day.
Ending a three-game homestand tonight, they routed the Carolina Hurricanes 4-0 on Thursday to end a three-game losing streak. Alex Ovechkin, with 763 goals and three shy of third all-time in NHL history, leads the Caps and is tied for fourth in the league this season with 33 goals.