SUN Hockey Pool

Giordano's number is up

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

EDMONTON -- It's all new to Mark Giordano.

His first time starting a season in an NHL lineup.

His first taste of opening-night jitters.

The Calgary Flames defenceman even pulled on a new number to mark the occasion, sporting No. 5 in last night's 3-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

"I got rid of the old football number," said Giordano of the more familiar No. 46 he wore seven times as a call-up last season. "A bunch of guys said, 'Get rid of that training camp number and lets get 'er going, it's the regular season now.'

"(No. 46) was never a number I picked."

According to Flames head coach Jim Playfair, who had been singing Giordano's praises throughout training camp, a group of veteran players came to him and announced it was time the 23-year-old shed the minor-league designator and choose his own digits.

"The players came to us and said, 'This doesn't look right in our organization, on our team, to have 46 -- a high number. What can you guys do to get him a lower number?' " said Playfair. "It was more older players coming than him coming. That's what you want in your organization. You want the team to feel like they're a tight team. I thought it was pretty cool, actually."

Giordano wore No. 34 in Omaha last year but wasn't about to ask the league's best goaltender a season ago for his number.

"I don't think I'll be able to get that one here for a long time," joked Giordano.

Which is fine with him. The third-year pro was just happy to be part of this team when the puck dropped on a new campaign.

"Awesome. It feels awesome. Just starting opening night with the team in a big game like tonight," said Giordano. "I'm just excited."

Starting the season with the Flames involved an entirely separate set of nerves than the sort of jitters he felt as a blueline call-up just months ago.

"Last year in St. Louis, I got called up the night before. It happens real quick," said Giordano. "This time, I played all seven games in training camp and feel confident. I've cracked the lineup here."

Despite the confidence in knowing he claimed the spot that opened when Rhett Warrener suffered a knee injury in his second pre-season game, Giordano wasn't immune to stomach flutters.

"Opening night, everybody gets nervous," he said.


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