Giordano sees Maple Leafs as perfect fit professionally, personally

TORONTO – Mark Giordano prioritized a chance to win the Stanley Cup above all else.

That he feels his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, gives him that chance is an added bonus.

“It came down to, I’m at the stage in my career where I want to take as many last cracks at having an opportunity to win,” Giordano said Monday. “So we thought about that first and foremost as a family. But my kids not having to move schools and change addresses at this point goes a long way, so it was a perfect fit.”

The defenseman, who will turn 39 on Oct. 3, signed a two-year, $ 1.6 million contract ($ 800,000 average annual value) on Sunday.

Giordano had 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in 20 games with the Maple Leafs after being acquired in a trade with the Seattle Kraken on March 20. He also had two assists in the playoffs, when Toronto was eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games in the Eastern Conference First Round.

“Playing here and going through playoffs with the guys, from my perspective and being a player on this team, it’s not hard to see that we are a team that is not far away from being a true contender in the League,” Giordano said. “We pushed Tampa Bay to seven games, and they’ve had the success they’ve had over the last few years for a reason, and I think you’re seeing a little bit of that as playoffs go on as well. It was a tough way to go out, but we all think and all still believe that we have a team that is pretty close. We know we have to take steps to get over that hump… but I believe in this group for sure. “

General manager Kyle Dubas was excited that Giordano wanted to return.

“We are thrilled that Mark has elected to re-sign with the Maple Leafs,” he said. “Mark came in at the [trade] deadline and provided a veteran, stabilizing presence to our back end while vastly improving our defensive play. Everything he does is done to help the team win, and that includes a tremendous sacrifice in this contract negotiation. “

Giordano, who was in the final season of a six-year contract he signed with the Calgary Flames on Aug. 25, 2015, could have become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.

However, he said he never considered what could be available on the open market.

“I’m definitely blessed to have had the career I’ve had so far and be in a position financially where I’m in a good spot,” Giordano said. “I wasn’t worried about hard negotiating. At the end of the day, I want to be here, I love the team and wanted to do what I can do to help this team move forward.”

During the Maple Leafs’ final media availability, Giordano mentioned a willingness to take on a mentorship role with Toronto’s younger defensemen, including Rasmus Sandin22, and Timothy Liljegren23. That’s why getting a two-year contract meant a lot to Giordano.

“It was important,” he said. “You just feel like the team wants you around for that extra year. That makes you feel better about things, and to get the two years, I feel like I can establish myself even more as a leader in the room and presence on this team . “

Another aspect of staying for Giordano was the return of coach Sheldon Keefe.

“I think he’s a great coach,” Giordano said. “Being here for almost 30 games, his bench management and the way he sees the game, I agree with a lot of his theories on the game. All our coaches I was impressed with, and again another reason why I really wanted to be a part of this moving forward. “

Giordano has 544 points (151 goals, 393 assists) in 1,024 regular-season games over 16 NHL seasons for the Flames, Kraken and Maple Leafs. He won the Norris Trophy voted as the best defenseman in the NHL in 2019.

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