CALGARY – Oh, there's Gio.
These were the words of thousands of concerned Calgary Flames fans who saw Captain Mark Giordano limp from the ice Tuesday evening and finally walked down the hall to the dressing room.
Ready for the night.
This could change everything even in the closest battles.
Late in the second phase of Flames' 1-3 loss to the low San Jose Sharks, Calgary's captain came to a lame halt after an innocent one-timer that suddenly clumsily spun toward splits. He lay on the ice for a few seconds afterwards as the game went on, a move unfamiliar to the tough defender.
A Sharks player told Sportsnet that he heard the 36-year-old say, "I broke my hamstring." A cameraman from the ice rink heard the same thing.
In the next commercial break, Giordano returned for a test on the ice, followed by a walk through the tunnel to the room. The team has not released an update except for the news that it would not return to the mission.
The mood in the locker room indicated a bad situation, although it is difficult to say how devastating it was to follow an 8: 3 humiliation with a loss of draft lottery feed.
"He is our leader. So if you are not worried, you have a problem," said Michael Stone. "He is a large part of our team – probably the largest part of our team. It is so difficult to see that he leaves the game there."
No one was willing to offer any kind of information as is common in these situations, but assistant Martin Gelinas told Sportsnet The Fan 960 after the game that Giordano was in great pain.
If that's serious, that's the state of affairs in Calgary.
"It may be a big loss," said interim coach Geoff Ward, who would only say it was an injury to the lower body. "We worry about things as they unfold. At the moment it's just speculation, so we'll wait and see what the doctors say. But it may be a big loss."
As pedestrian-friendly as its season was, this team cannot afford to lose a player of Giordano's stature and importance for a long time.
The racket is not deep enough at the rear end. And teams cannot replace defending Norris Trophy winners.
At a time when some of the team's six regular defenders are going through significant turmoil, this could seriously change Calgary's playoff opportunities, not to mention the trading deadline.
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Suddenly the need for a right wing is overshadowed by the need for a top 4 Blueliner.
An upcoming UFA like Brenden Dillon could be in the place of a Tyler Toffoli, Chris Kreider or Kasperi Kapanen.
Formerly considered the backbone of the flames, the Defense Corps is now full of question marks.
After a few tough games against the Oilers, Noah Hanifin came across the third unit next to the little-used Stone to start the game on Tuesday. As a result, Travis Hamonic played with TJ Brodie and Rasmus Andersson alongside Giordano.
Next on the depth map is Oliver Kylington, who was injured on Tuesday after another rough stain.
On the farm?
Alex Yelesin, Rinat Valiev and Brandon Davidson, who have played three NHL games this season.
Don't think that the problem can be fixed in the first round by Juuso Valimaki, who is in the sixth month of a six to nine month rehabilitation after knee surgery. He started skating this week himself, but he's still far from returning, let alone an important task on a grand scale.
"He is our best defender and probably our toughest worker and one of our best if not the best player," said Giordano's Matthew Tkachuk. "It's definitely a big hole, but the people in this room are only able to fill that through a committee. You can't have one person doing what they do, so you have to do it as a group."
In a season of twists and turns, the combination of losing to the sharks and losing their star defender could mean a devastating turn of fate.
How they react on and next to the ice is unclear.
"I don't know exactly what happened, but it doesn't feel good when someone leaves the game," said Sean Monahan. "He's obviously the leader of our team and a really important player for us. But if such a guy goes down, the guys have to take a role. You have to win games for guys who fight for you."
And it can set the flames rolling.