First, he skated solo.
Then, with the team. And on Tuesday, Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano skated with his squad in his first full-contact practice.
The next step is a smooth morning skate ahead of Wednesday’s clash against the Phoenix Coyotes. If he emerges pain-free, Flames head coach Bob Hartley said there’s a “strong possibility” of seeing the heart-and-soul defenceman in the lineup for the first time since breaking his ankle on Oct. 21.
“I know only one Mark Giordano,” Hartley said. “He’s always full speed, always ready to go, I saw him and Glenny (Curtis Glencross who is still out with a knee injury) and all those injured guys in the gym every day. The way they get ready, they want to get back. With the support of our medical staff and what they’re doing with their players, it seems we always find a way to get back a little quicker.
“But Gio looked very good (Tuesday) and I asked him after practice and he had zero pain.”
Which is good news, especially considering he was given an initial ballpark recovery time of six-to-eight weeks. On Monday, it had been exactly six weeks on Monday since the injury, which occurred when he blocked a shot in the second period of the team’s 3-2 win at L.A. back in October.
At the time of his diagnosis, Giordano was tied for third in points on the team with two goals and seven assists in eight games and the Flames were 5-4-2.
“It’s felt like it’s been a long time, but really it’s been a month and a half,” he said. “Our trainers, our medical staff, they all put in their time and work with me. Our docs have given us good advice and it’s gone pretty smoothly, so it’s pretty positive.”
He happily reported a pain-free skate on Tuesday.
“I feel great,” Giordano said. “I felt better than expected. I felt no pain in the ankle area. As far as it feels right now, it feels pretty good. I was surprised with how good I felt (Tuesday).”
Besides his leadership and blue collar mentality, Giordano was logging just over 25 minutes of ice time per night.
In his absence, the void has been filled by veteran Dennis Wideman, the smooth-skating T.J. Brodie, Kris Russell, and Chris Butler.
However, the Flames are exercising caution and easing Giordano back into the lineup.
“Let’s remember one thing,” Hartley said. “If Gio is in the lineup, he didn’t play for five, six weeks so we can’t expect him to be (the old) Gio. But at the same time, we’ll start him slow and see how he feels. We need the green light first.”
First, he skated solo.