CALGARY – Walking with only a small hint of a limp, Mark Giordano approached a horde of reporters Thursday morning with good news, and a reminder.
The hamstring he injured two nights earlier won’t require surgery, meaning he’ll likely be back in a matter of weeks, not months.
It’s a far cry from the season-ending biceps injury he and the team dealt with almost exactly five years earlier.
Forever a leader, Giordano wanted to point out that all the doom and gloom that surrounded his previous injury resulted in a late surge by the team that not only got them into the playoffs, but won them a round.
He’s confident the team can follow a similar path.
"I remember the last time I went out with an injury and the team sort of rallied around it," said the 36-year-old Calgary Flames captain, speaking for the first time since his awkward one-timer ended his night against San Jose.
"We have a better team with way more depth. I know the guys are going to play desperate and keep us in a playoff spot. I think the guys can rally around this."
This year’s playoff race in the Pacific is every bit as tight as it was in 2014-15, which is why Giordano’s message Thursday morning was one of hope and encouragement.
"I don’t want it to be a distraction to the guys and I don’t want it to be a somber mood in there when I’m around," he said.
"With our defensive core, guys who don’t normally get the minutes have a chance to step up."
They’ll have to, which is the universal message in a room filled with players who know replacing a Norris Trophy winner can only be done as a unit.
"We think we’ve got good players who can absorb this loss," said general manager Brad Treliving, who added the team "dodged a big bullet" with the MRI results late Wednesday.
"The reality is you’re going to have injuries – it’s how you deal with them. The good news with Gio is over the course of his career he’s been a fast healer. We went through this with him my first year (2014-15). Similar time, right before the deadline. We said back then, ‘You don’t replace him but everybody pulls on the rope a little harder.’"
Rasmus Andersson will likely be looked upon to take the biggest jump, pairing up with Noah Hanifin on the second unit. T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic will play top minutes, while Oliver Kylington and Michael Stone will be the third tandem. Brodie, Andersson and Hanifin will see more power-play time in Giordano’s absence. The Flames placed Giordano on injured reserve and summoned Brandon Davidson from Stockton.
"I’m really happy I don’t have to worry about surgery and something that will end my season," said Giordano, who said he didn’t feel a pop when his legs splayed awkwardly.
"I was just trying to one-time the puck. It was an open net, and my right leg sort of went out in an awkward way and pulled away from me. I could feel it was overstretched and I knew something was wrong."
Giordano got up from the ice slowly, made his way back to the bench and tested the leg during the next TV timeout before exiting the game.
"It was really stiff (Wednesday) morning," said Giordano, whose team sits in the second wild-card position heading into Thursday’s home game against a surging Nashville squad that sits three back.
"Already today I feel like it’s loosening up and improving. Hopefully that happens every day. I’m looking forward to getting back as a soon as I can, but you have to be realistic. When you can’t help the team, you shouldn’t be playing.
"My motivation is to get back and play well towards the playoffs."