Calgary captain Mark Giordano has emerged as a strong replacement candidate should one of Canada’s eight Olympic defensemen get hurt.
“It’s not just, ‘Hey, here’s your 25 guys’ and our work is done. Now, management is going to pour into arenas and watch those bubble guys like [Giordano],” Team Canada assistant Ken Hitchcock said, per the Calgary Sun. “There are probably eight or 10 bubble guys identified in case there’s an injury, and he’s one of those guys who is really emerging.
“It’s too bad he was hurt, but he’s climbing the ladder.”
Giordano, who missed 18 games this year with a broken ankle, has been very solid while in the Calgary lineup. He enjoyed an outstanding start by scoring nine points in his first eight games while averaging a whopping 25:03 TOI and, since returning from injury on Dec. 4, has scored nine more points in 17 games.
Named captain prior to this season, Giordano is known for his quality two-way play and ability to log huge minutes. He’s played over 28 on two different occasions this season and, in his third game back off the broken ankle, played 26:20 in a 2-1 OT win over Edmonton.
Giordano also possesses a left-handed shot, which is important for the makeup of Team Canada’s defense. The braintrust wants the blueline to have four righties and four lefties (currently, the four lefties are Jay Bouwmeester, Duncan Keith, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Dan Hamhuis), so it’s very possible Giordano could be the first man up should injury hit.
“Everybody knows you lose eight players a week in the National Hockey League to injury,” Hitchcock explained. “It could be some of our Team Canada guys.”