When Mark Giordano signed a two-year contract for the low salary of $800,000 per season, not every Toronto Maple Leafs’ fan was happy. At 39 years of age, Giordano is the eldest skater playing in the 2022-23 regular season. That prompted some pushback from fans.
He was seen as a player who was well past his prime. However, as things have turned out – especially with the number of injuries the Maple Leafs have experienced on their blueline, Giordano has been nothing but sensational. He’s gone from playing on the team’s third pairing to the team’s first pairing without skipping a beat.
Maple Leafs’ Coach Keefe Praises His Elder Statesman
In a recent interview, Maple Leafs’ head Keefe was asked about Giordano’s value to the team. As he should, he had nothing but accolades about the former Norris Trophy winner’s leadership both on and off the ice.
Coach Keefe believed that the veteran defenceman’s value to the team was shown best by rising to the challenge of playing throughout the litany of injuries the team experienced with its defencemen.
As seen in the video of the interview below, Keefe noted Giordano’s leadership OFF the ice throughout the time of injuries. As well, Giordano showed his value in his stellar play ON the ice during that same time.
Giordano Has Helped Stabilize the Maple Leafs On and Off the Ice
Some of the specific points that Keefe made included that Giordano was able to help the team stabilize their play with so many guys out. Specifically, Keefe noted that Giordano “stepped up in a big way for us and has been huge in so many ways not just on the ice but in the room.”
Keefe added that Giordano was an example of the team’s next-man-up philosophy. He helps the team survive and prosper during what is an extremely physical game. There will be injuries in the NHL. And, when those injuries came, the 39-year-old was one of “our guys who have stepped up.”
Coach Keefe added that Giordano exemplifies a simple belief. Even if the team loses players, the group (in this case the defensemen) can take care of itself. Keefe noted that it was a significant learning for the team.
Giordano Demonstrates Leadership and Tenacity
About Giordano in particular, Keefe is simply “grateful for the fact that we have him here with his leadership in his tenacity.” Keefe has noted before that Giordano is one of the most competitive players on the team.
However, the bottom line is that he helps the team win games. That’s critical as the team attempts to break their postseason habit of losing in the first round.
Giordano’s Bargain Contract Is Huge for the Team in Several Ways
Before Giordano signed with the team, there were salary speculations that Giordano’s next contract would be worth $6 million on the market. If that were the case (or close to it), the fact that he signed for a salary of $800,000 was a potential 80% pay cut.
Although $6 million might have been a bit high, a contract over $4 million might have been more in the ballpark. It meant that the Maple Leafs had over $3 million of added cap space they could use on the contracts of other players. Doing the numbers, that extra money turned out almost to be the combined salaries of Giordano’s blueline partners Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren.
Giordano Left Millions on the Table: There’s a Message There
Giordano remains an impact NHL player. He left millions of dollars on the table to play with his hometown Maple Leafs. That is a significant lesson about the team’s ethos of sacrificing for each other.
In that way, Giordano’s signing goes far beyond just the money. It sends a clear message to all Maple Leafs’ players about a veteran’s belief in this team’s ability to accomplish something in the playoffs.
Giordano believes in this team. That’s not only a bargain contract, but it’s also a value contract that goes past the money.