Defenseman Mark Giordano addressed the media after receiving the news that he is headed to his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs for the team’s Stanley Cup playoff run.
How does it feel to be a Toronto Maple Leaf?
Giordano: It means a lot. Just looking at it the past couple of weeks, the Leafs are a team that were obviously on my radar as a team that I might get traded to and one of the better teams in the league. It being my hometown is obviously a huge bonus. To be able to come to a team that has a real good shot at creating some damage in playoffs is something I am really excited about.
What does it mean to your family with your roots in the area? Were you a Leafs fan growing up?
Giordano: It means a lot. You grow up in Toronto, and you’re a Leaf fan the whole time. You’re cheering for the Leafs, and as I sort of turned pro and got into Calgary on a different team, you sort of hope the Leafs don’t win because you’re kind of jealous of your hometown team winning the Cup.
Now that I am able to get back to Toronto and be a part of it, it is a great opportunity for me to be a part of something special. I am really, really looking forward to it.
How are your parents and the rest of your family feeling about it?
Giordano: Everyone is really excited. I have only gone through about 10-20 text messages, and I have a ton more to get through. I am not sure I will get through them all before the end of the month. Everyone is pretty excited, obviously.
There were a lot of Leafs fans in my family growing up. Obviously, my parents and my sister are really excited to have us home.
What was your fondest moment growing up as a Leafs fan?
Giordano: There are a few, but I would say Doug Gilmour and the Leafs getting to the Conference Finals against LA. I really thought that they were going to get to the Cup that year against the Canadiens, but Wayne Gretzky spoiled those plans. That year stands out.
The year they went to the Conference Final against the Canucks stands out, and then later on, when Pat Quinn was coaching and Sundin was the captain, they went to the Conference Final again against Carolina.
I was a big hockey fan growing up and a big Leafs fan. A lot of memories. I would say the ’93 Stanley Cup playoffs when CuJo was in St. Louis was the one that sticks out.
What excites you the most about the current roster? What gives you the most hope that this team as it is built can go on a long run?
Giordano: We have played them twice recently. Both times, you could just see the skill on the team is right up there with anyone in the league. Most of the pieces of their team are great. It is a full roster from the goaltending, to the D, to the forwards. I am really excited to join and try to help as much as I can.
What does a mid-season trade — the first time you’ve experienced it — feel like?
Giordano: I have never been through a trade before, to be honest. Going through the expansion draft last year was something new for me, but I had a great experience in Seattle.
I want to make sure I mention how great the organization treated me here right to the end. I had a great relationship with [Ron Francis] and he knew that I am from Toronto. He knew this would be a great fit for me. For him to put me in a spot like this means a lot.
Coming into the last couple of months, it was pretty obvious our team was not going to get into the playoffs here in Seattle. I am really excited to get back into the mix and get back into games that have playoff implications.
Have you heard yet from TJ Brodie?
Giordano: Yeah, Brods and I texted back and forth a few times. I can’t wait to see Brods again. I can’t wait to play on the same team as him again. We are great buddies off the ice. I am sure you guys know how great of a player he is on the ice by now. I am excited to get on the ice and play with him again.
How much does someone like TJ help your transition process?
Giordano: For sure. I have met a bunch of guys on the Leafs just being from Toronto and being around in the summer. Having played with Brods, obviously, for as long as I did in Calgary, he is going to help me out at the start getting acclimated with the facility and all of that stuff.
On the ice, I may be asking certain questions to certain guys. I’ll ask a lot of questions to coaches and players about style of play and all of that stuff. I grew up playing against Spezz my whole life. A lot of guys in Toronto I have grown to know over the years. I feel pretty comfortable coming into that dressing room.
What did you like most about playing with TJ?
Giordano: I think Brods doesn’t get enough credit or hasn’t gotten enough credit in his career for how good he is. I don’t know if you guys have noticed, but he makes every partner he plays with look really good. I think that was the case for a bunch of years when I played with him.
He is a guy who can break the puck out by himself. In the o-zone, I think he has really great deception. I really loved playing with him because he would fake two or three guys out and slide the puck over to me, and I’d have all day to walk in and take a shot. We were pretty comfortable with each other.
He is more of a lead-the-rush kind of guy, and I am more of a guy who can jump into spots, but we worked out well together when we did play.
What are your thoughts on the rest of the defense corps in Toronto and what you think you can add to it?
Giordano: It is a deep group. It is a group that has a lot of guys who have different skill sets, which is important. Some guys can play more physical, and then you have a good mix of puck-moving guys. Mo and Brods are really elite puck movers and skaters, and so are Sandin and Liljegren — two young guys with a ton of upside and poise.
I am looking forward to just finding my spot in the group. I know one thing: When you have a deep D core, it really can translate to success. You see it every year in playoffs. I think we have that.
Is it fair to say you consider yourself a young 38-year-old? What has the wear and tear done to you over the years, and how do you feel physically right now?
Giordano: I feel great. I am 38 and I just played 1,000 games. Most 38-year-old guys would’ve played more games by now. I started and developed later, I would say, in my career.
Physically, I feel good. I try to work and keep my speed all the time. I think that is the number one thing you worry about as you get older, but I feel really good physically. I am excited to get back into a game. Sitting out and waiting for the trade deadline wasn’t the most fun thing, so I am looking forward to playing in a game again.
Do you expect to play on Wednesday, and what number will you wear?
Giordano: That is up to the coaches. I am sure we will have conversations. I am excited to get into a game as soon as possible. I haven’t played the last two here in Seattle, so I am excited.
As far as numbers, I haven’t really thought too much about it. I was going to take #78, but I think it is taken in Toronto. I will probably stick to something with a five in it; hopefully, 55 is available, or something like that.