MONTREAL — Mark Giordano comes by his work ethic and humble nature honestly, from his dad, Paul, and mom, Anna.
The magnitude of appreciation he has for how far his hockey has taken him comes, in part, from a tragedy that brought that family even closer together.
While Giordano was playing in front of dozens of his friends and family members at the Air Canada Centre in his hometown of Toronto Saturday, CBC reporter Elliotte Friedman’s feature on the 27-year-old blueliner was airing on Hockey Night in Canada’s Inside Hockey segment.
Friedman had dinner with Mark’s family last week to see firsthand where this spectacular hockey story came from.
He found tragedy was a big part of it.
A car accident in 1998 claimed the life of Giordano’s sister Mia — who, at age 20, was six years older than Mark at the time — and left Paul, Anna, Mark and sister Michelle to figure out how to move forward.
They did it together, discovering ways to take positives out of one of the most horrific things that can happen.
“You don’t take things for granted,” Giordano said Sunday.
“Until it happens to you,
I guess you do. You don’t really see things the way you see them afterwards.
“It brought our family closer together.”
It also explains an aspect of Giordano’s personality that was hard to define.
He’s worked as hard, if not harder, than any professional athlete to get to the game’s highest level but isn’t satisfied with just being in the NHL.
He strives to get better constantly and is accomplishing just that.
But he doesn’t seem to feel like there’s any pressure on him to do that, even after signing a five-year extension worth more than $20 million earlier this season.
“You look at things in the big picture,” he said.
“We’re only playing a game, and it should be fun. That’s what I try and take away from it.”
Giordano was a teen when the accident happened, just getting into high school.
Hockey was still a big part of his life, but priorities certainly became more apparent.
“That was a tough time. It sucks. But it makes you see things a lot clearer, too,” he said.
“The relationships you have with your family, you cherish those more. You realize that it’s not there forever.
“I try not to take it for granted. And I try to work hard every day.”
With his success comes obvious joy for his parents, who watch Flames games intensely on TV.
“My parents have been through a lot. That’s a tough thing for them to go through. I know they always think about it, but I hope it can take their mind away from it for those few hours I’m playing,” said Giordano, who taps
his head with his stick during the national anthem before every game while thinking of Mia.
He figures he’s been doing that since junior.
“I’ve been doing it a while now,” he said.
“Something to do every game. A superstitious thing.
“I always think about her before the games, so it’s just sort of a little tribute.”