When Flames general manager Brad Treliving is asked to sum up the culture surrounding his team, he immediately points to one individual.
For Treliving, Giordano exemplifies not only the team’s identity on the ice but the philosophy the group has when it comes to community involvement.
And while he knows the Flames captain doesn’t align himself with charitable causes for any sort of accolades or public recognition, seeing Giordano named a finalist for the ESPN Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award is a nod towards the 33-year-old’s commitment to his community and fostering an atmosphere that stresses the importance of giving back.
“We don’t need any reminders to know how lucky we are to have Mark – the type of person he is – as our leader but it’s another reminder,” Treliving told CalgaryFlames.com.
“The great thing about Gio is that all of his work is so genuine. He doesn’t do it because he has to or because he’s supposed to. He does it because that’s who he is.
“What it does is that it sets the tone for everybody in our organization. When you have the guy at the top with his DNA, the mindset he has, nobody else has a chance to be any different.
“I think it’s part of the fabric of our team and our organization and it’s a mission statement for us on how we’re going to operate – this team is a proud part of the community and we will be involved and we’re going to try to make a difference.
“We’re fortunate to have him as our leader and I’m happy to see him recognized for it. He doesn’t do this for recognition or awards or any of that but you’re always happy for a person who commits like he does to be recognized.”
Since joining the Flames last summer, head coach Glen Gulutzan has worked closely with Giordano and is still amazed at the sheer volume of his captain’s community work.
“The biggest thing you see is the time and effort he puts in with his foundation, with charity events and the stuff he just takes on himself without anyone asking,” said Gulutzan. “And he does it without seeking any credit or notoriety … he just wants to give back.
“He sets a great example, too … our young guys see what it is to be an NHL player – a player in a Canadian city – and how you have to give back and give your time.
“He’s a big reason we’re so involved in the community. We have lots of guys that are involved but when your captain is involved to the extent Gio is, the young guys see that and realize this is the way it is here. They’ve got a role model as soon as they enter the league and see that this is a part of the game and our organization.”
In his 11 years with the Flames, Giordano has worked with a multitude of community organizations, ranging from his 5-For-5 program with Habitat For Humanity, acting as a spokesman for the Reading … Give It A Shot! program, his involvement with Flames Foundation events, and his work with Hockey Alberta to make the game more accessible at a grassroots level.
He and his wife Lauren’s latest initiative, Team Giordano, is one of the Flames’ most ambitious and wide-ranging player programs and has impacted the lives of thousands of students across the city. Partnered with the Calgary Board of Education, the program has worked with four high-needs schools in providing resources necessary for students to succeed both in and out of the classroom. It aims to encourage physical fitness, healthy lifestyles, community involvement, and leadership skills.
Founded in 2014, Team Giordano has donated $300,000 to the schools to purchase new computers, school supplies, gym equipment, and a journal for students.
The Giordanos pay visits to the schools as well, talking to students about overcoming adversity and finding ways to be successful in life.
Flames Foundation executive director Candice Goudie has worked extensively with Giordano over the years and couldn’t be more proud to see him receive this sort of recognition.
“It’s so indicative of what our team is about and what our ownership group is about and the leadership he brings to the group of people around him,” she said.
“To be recognized, on that sort of stage at such a significant level with the names that he’s next to, it’s incredible.
“It’s an unbelievable honour for he and Lauren and for our team, our charity, as well.”
The ESPN Sports Humanitarian Awards take place on Tuesday, July 11 in Los Angeles. In addition to Giordano, the other Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian finalists are golfer Ernie Els, Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and New York Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson.