SUN Hockey Pool

Giordano off to Worlds

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:19 PM ET

CALGARY — Earning high praise from hockey legend Scotty Bowman during a breakout NHL season could only have been topped by a call he received from Mark Messier when it was over.

Team Canada’s general manager dialed up Calgary Flames defenceman Mark Giordano to invite him to the world championships in Germany next month.

“It was pretty cool,” Giordano said after hauling his equipment and sticks to the car and going through his exit medical with the Flames Wednesday afternoon. “I talked to Darryl (Sutter) and he said it was a good idea.

“I was pretty excited.”

Up-and-coming NHLers tend to have that reaction when they pick up the phone and hear Messier’s voice on the other end.

“I met him one time in New York briefly,” Giordano said of his only other encounter with Messier.

“He gave me the call and I was pretty excited.”

It’s been that kind of season for Giordano, who was the Flames’ most consistent defenceman all year, drawing compliments from former coach and current Chicago Blackhawks advisor Bowman, who called him the most improved player in the league.

Posting 11 goals and 30 points in 82 games, Giordano’s name is no longer under the radar.

The 26-year-old undrafted free-agent signing from the summer of 2004 played better than $6.68-million man Jay Bouwmeester (three goals and 29 points).

Bouwmeester says he didn’t get an invite for Team Canada, but fellow Flames Eric Nystrom and David Moss will be suiting up for the Americans.

“I’ve never been and I’m excited to be going,” said Moss. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Nystrom and Moss were linemates at the University of Michigan and could be reunited in Germany.

“He’s one of my best friends,” Nystrom said. “So to play with him in Europe is going to be awesome. Getting a chance to play with guys on other teams will be a lot of fun.”

Playing against Giordano might be a little frustrating.

He was tops in plus/minus with a plus-17 rating. Only newcomer Ian White outscored him from the blueline.

“This year was the most successful for me as an individual. I just have to keep getting better,” Giordano said, adding he’d much prefer the team made the playoffs. “At the end of the year, that’s what you are judged on. It’s nice to have individual success but it’s a lot better if your team has success.

“This season is over and had a few days to think about it. We’re not happy how it ended but a few of us get a chance to keep playing.”

Suiting up for Team Canada again can only improve his game further.

“It’s a good opportunity for me,” said Giordano, who was part of the 2008 team but didn’t play a game as a reserve. “It’s a big tournament. I’m looking forward to going there and playing well and helping the team. Any time you get asked, it’s pretty cool.”

Especially when the guy asking is Messier.


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