Being captain of a National Hockey League team can be either awesome or terrible. If the team does well, the captain gets the credit. If the team’s lousy, the captain gets the criticism. September marked seven years since Mark Giordano was named captain of the Calgary Flames and luckily for him, the club has performed well.
After seven seasons, where does Giordano stack up among all the Flames’ captains?
First and foremost, the Flames have had 19 captains in club history.
Jarome Iginla is the best of them. He was captain for nine seasons (and a lockout). He led the Flames to within a goal of the Stanley Cup in 2004. He won a Rocket Richard for goal-scoring and was honoured for his humanitarian work (with the King Clancy and NHL Foundation Player Awards) and leadership (with the Mark Messier Leadership Award). On and off the ice, Iginla set the standard and achieved individual and team excellence.
Of the remaining 18 captains, five (including Giordano) wore the C for over 200 games – an arbitrary bar to keep this discussion limited to long-time captains: Giordano, Jim Peplinski, Lanny McDonald, Joe Nieuwendyk, and former Atlanta captain Keith McCreary.
From an individual success level, three of these five captains won hardware while wearing the C:
- Nieuwendyk won the King Clancy.
- McDonald won the King Clancy as well.
- Giordano won the NHL Foundation Player Award, but also captured the Norris Trophy and the Messier Leadership Award.
From an individual trophy standpoint, Giordano takes this in a walk.
But team success differs. If you measure team success by the number of playoff rounds won during their captaincy, McDonald and Peplinski (tied at 8) take the cake, though you can easily argue that they had an absolutely stacked team and no salary cap to contend with. Neither of Nieuwendyk or McCreary won a round while captain, and Giordano was injured the one season the Flames advanced past the round of 16.
Based on the evidence, it’s hard to push Giordano past McDonald in the captaincy pantheon – winning a Stanley Cup will do that – but it’s hard to push McDonald past Giordano because the current captain has been arguably the NHL’s most consistently strong defender since donning the C in 2013 and didn’t have the supporting cast that Lanny did while (co-)captain.
Who’s the better captain overall (and therefore the second-best in franchise history): Giordano or McDonald? Or is it a tie? Sound off in the comments!