Why Mark Giordano made ‘a tremendous sacrifice’ to remain a Maple Leaf

TORONTO – During those heady days following the trade deadline, when the Toronto Maple Leafs’ defence corps was in the throes of an instant boost from its newest and oldest recruit, coach Sheldon Keefe considered the best aspect of Mark Giordano’s game.

“He puts out fires,” Keefe concluded of the wily, steady veteran and seamless fit.

Well, another long, handwringing, cap-crunching summer in Leafland hadn’t yet reached a week old, and there was Giordano wielding a fire extinguisher, hosing down a balance sheet that has glowing embers everywhere you look.

By taking a severe hometown discount Sunday and signing a two-year, $1.6-million extension, Giordano left general manager Kyle Dubas “thrilled.”

And the fan base should be equally ecstatic at Giordano’s we-before-me approach, which has granted Dubas some coveted wiggle room to hire a goaltender and award younger players (RFAs Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren and Pierre Engvall) with their deserved raises.

“Everything he does is done to help the team win, and that includes a tremendous sacrifice in this contract negotiation,” Dubas said.

The GM and the onetime Norris Trophy winner had agreed Saturday on a slightly higher AAV, near $1 million, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, when the impending UFA voluntarily offered to shave a little more off his salary to free up spending elsewhere.

Think about this.

Giordano raked $6.75 million this past season from Seattle and, down the stretch, Toronto.

His new $800,000 salary, a shade above the…

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