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Seattle Kraken's Mark Giordano known just as well for his impact off the ice

The Kraken defenseman and his wife Lauren have spent considerable time, energy, and money with non-profits and philanthropic pursuits.

Calgary's Saddledome was a "C of Red," as they call it locally, on Wednesday night. But for the first time in the Kraken franchise's short history, you could find several fans wearing the Seattle logo across their chest. 

That's likely because of the player who came to personify the home team, and now plays for the Kraken. 

"Nice to have Gio come back," said Flames original season ticket holder Dave Oakley, who was wearing Mark Giordano's No. 5 jersey to honor the former Calgary captain turned Kraken team leader. 

Giordano was left exposed by Calgary in the expansion draft and Seattle was more than happy to pick the player who spent all 15 years of his career in Alberta. 

"He is irreplaceable. He was the captain - the heart of the team," Oakley said. 

"We weren't ready for it, but understand it," said Flames ticket holder Mark Milligan, who wore Giordano's sweater as well. 

It's not just fans who hold Giordano is high esteem. 

The now-Kraken defenseman and his wife Lauren spent considerable time, energy, and money with non-profits and philanthropic pursuits. There are stories, whispered about, that the Giordano's paid utility and food bills last year for Calgarians impacted by  the COVID-19 pandemic.

Multiple people say the Giordano's did most of that work out of the public eye, and without any request for attention. 

"There was so much that Mark and Lauren did behind the scenes that nobody knows about, nobody will know about," said friend Candice Goudie, who leads the Flames Foundation. She said she came to the organization at the same time as Mark, and has been friends with the family ever since. 

The Giordano's built homes for Habitat for Humanity, and started up Team GIO to feed kids and families in need. 

"Instantly, we had a connection because we had a common goal of looking at food security for children," said Gino Marghella, the general manager of the Italian Centre Shop, who reached out last year asking for Giordano's help during the pandemic.  

He said Mark and Lauren showed up without fanfare or cameras to help package food for needy Calgarians. Simply put, he said, "Their community and charity work is legendary here in Calgary." 

Helen Nowlan-Walls runs Education Matters, a foundation that supports Calgary Public Schools with food, literacy and life skills. 

"Never, ever, ever, like trying to get those guys to brag about what they actually do in the community is painful, they will not."  

She said the Giordanos made an impact that can't quite be fully encapsulated, and comes from the upbringing that has grounded the couple.  

"They're both very humble people," she said. "Lucky Seattle, you're getting an absolute gem." 

Mark's switch to a Kraken uniform is also testing their long-rooted Flames allegiance. The question sparks a smirk in most people.  

Marghella said his daughter already asked for a Kraken jersey. 

"At first, it was kind of a little bit weird. But you know what, he's a good man and it's not hard to root for him even though he's on a different team." 

Goudie chuckles, "I mean, I hope, like, we finish one and they finish two. But definitely wish them success. But not as much success as us, but just like just below us."

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