CALGARY, Alberta — Even before he scored the opening goal Wednesday night, Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano was always going to be the game’s big story given his 15 seasons here — the last eight as captain — with the hometown Flames.
So, after Wednesday’s morning skate, there were naturally a bunch of media requests for Giordano and questions about his being selected by the Kraken in July’s expansion draft and leaving the only NHL team he’d previously known at age 37. But Giordano, who turns 38 next week, at times sounded more concerned about his new team getting to know one another on the ice than about reconnecting with former teammates.
Given that longtime veterans aren’t always known for making early training camp trips for back-to-back road games, he was asked whether he’d requested to play in this contest.
“Just our schedule, looking at it, we only have four games left,’’ Giordano said. “And being a new team, we’ve got to get familiar with each other and play games.’’
That said, he did chat briefly in the corridor with a number of former teammates.
“It’s different, for sure, coming in the other side,’’ Giordano said. “I mean, just getting out on the ice. A lot of familiar faces around here. But it will be different. I’m looking forward to playing the boys over there.’’
Giordano, who still has a home in Calgary being looked after by others, said he’s glad to get the return under his belt early. The Kraken has a regular-season game here in December and Giordano figures that will be an even bigger event for him.
For years, Giordano and his wife, Lauren, became fixtures within the greater Calgary community. They partnered with Habitat for Humanity in 2011 to build homes in developing countries.
By 2014, they’d launched a Team Giordano initiative to provide resources for four low-income Calgary schools to support student needs and personal development. They’d help students that couldn’t afford to go on class trips, lacked food, or needed other support. They’d often show up in front of classrooms to interact with kids.
Lauren and the couple’s two children, son Jack, 8, and daughter Reese, 3, have relocated to Seattle to be with Giordano this season.
“It’s been great,’’ he said. “I think the city of Seattle, we’re getting used to it as a family. My family and I, we’re liking it. A lot of things to do.
“But as far as the team goes, there are just a lot of new faces. I think it’s a really important camp to get used to each other. Get used to how we’re going to play.
“Like I said before, we only have four left. So, it’s really important tonight to sort of get going here and then the next back-to-back on the weekend (in Everett and Kent) and then pretty much from there we’re into the regular season. So, it’s going to be an important little few games here for our team.’’
Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said what’s most impressed him about Giordano was how he acquitted himself the day of the expansion draft.
“The person that came in and saw us in the expansion draft not that many hours after learning that he was going to be chosen, was just unbelievably impressive,’’ Hakstol said after Wednesday’s morning skate. “And the way he was able to handle that entire situation, process everything, and then in that short amount of time have this positive outlook and a genuine excitement to be part of something new in Seattle, I found that most impressive.’’
- Hakstol wasn’t nearly as impressed with his team’s effort in a 6-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. That meant the Kraken, in its first two preseason games, beat a Vancouver Canucks squad filled mostly with minor league prospects before seeing largely its own bottom-line guys get thumped by what was primarily a group of Oilers first-teamers.
“You learn a lot from either result and that’s the biggest thing,’’ Hakstol said. “We’re pulling the good and the bad out of each of the key performances and really looking to pull the good and the bad out of individual player performances and evaluate it that way as well. So, we’re making progress but we’ve got a long way to go.’’
- The Kraken announced the signing Wednesday evening of forward Max McCormick to a one-year, $750,000 two-way contract. McCormick, 29, has played 83 career NHL games with Ottawa and, most recently, the Carolina Hurricanes last season, totaling eight goals and five assists combined for both.
Since being drafted in the sixth round by Ottawa a decade ago, the bulk of the 5-foot-11, 188-pounder’s career has been spent in the American Hockey League. He played 56 games for the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers in 2019-20 and was a popular player there — which is where he’s likely ticketed again as that team is serving as the Kraken’s AHL affiliate this season.
“Max is a hardworking forward that plays a gritty, high-energy game,” Kraken GM Ron Francis said. “He seems to be a fan favorite wherever he plays and he brings a solid work ethic to our organization.”