Dan Girardi was one of the Rangers all-time greats and his number should be retired
Whenever I think of Dan Girardi that is the one word that consistently comes to mind. For 13 years in the NHL with 11 of those years with the Rangers, Girardi put forth his heart and laid down his body game in and game out. He did it for the franchise, the fans and his teammates alike. For an undrafted player, he was a diamond in the rough, and that’s fitting considering diamonds are the hardest rocks on Earth.
A Great Ranger
It’s hard not to get emotional thinking about what Dan Girardi meant to me as not only a hockey fan, but as a passionate follower of the Blueshirts. It’s almost similar to how I feel about Brian Leetch, Jeff Beukeboom, and Sergei Zubov from the glorious early 90’s. You see, after winning the Cup the Rangers defense became a revolving door of mercenaries for the most part.
I could sit here and rattle off dozens of names like Stephane Quintal, Sylvan Lefebrve, Bruce Driver, Vladimir Malakhov, Greg DeVries, and so on and so forth. All players past their primes and cashing in for big money the Rangers were all too willing to give.
Then in 2006, the Rangers signed a 22 year old undrafted defenseman named Dan Girardi. He played 34 games that season and became a shot blocking wall for Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers. Girardi never looked back from that point and quietly put up some incredible numbers for the franchise. He became the foundation for one of the great runs in Rangers history as well.
- All time NHL leader in Blocked shots (Most with NYR)
- 230 Points (15th all-time among NYR Defensemen)
- 33 Playoff Points (5th all-time among NYR Defenseman)
- 788 Games Played (11th all-time for NYR)
- 122 Playoff Games (1st all-time for NYR defenseman and 2nd all-time behind Henrik Lundqvist (128))
Girardi’s play and most importantly his character were beloved by all his teammates. He was affectionately called G-Money by anyone who played a single game with him. The admiration and adulation by so many of them was heartfelt and genuine. From Ryan Callahan to Henrik Lundqvist the praise and well wishes were plenty.
Forever A Blueshirt
“I want to thank the New York Rangers for giving me a chance to fulfill my childhood dream of playing in the NHL. Throughout those 11 incredible years I have made so many friends on and off the ice. I bled Ranger blue and gave it my all for my team, the city and the Garden faithful. I also want to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning for helping me continue my career by giving me a chance to play for such an amazing organization, city and fan base. The last two years in Tampa Bay have been so much fun for me and my family. I will always fondly remember my time here. Finally, I want to thank my wife Pamela for always being there for me and holding down the fort and to Landon and Shaye for always being daddy’s No. 1 fans.”Dan Girardi
One of the saddest days for me in recent Rangers history was when Dan Girardi was bought out. I felt it was a mistake then and I still feel the same way now. However, the vitriol by some fans towards him on social media and how he was unjustly blamed for the Rangers losing the Stanley Cup Finals in 2014, made me happy to see him get a fresh start in Tampa.
Those painful memories are now in the past and his hockey journey has come to an end. Through the good, bad, and mostly excellent, Dan Girardi has cemented himself as one of the all-time great Rangers. While many may not see Girardi as worthy of having his number retired amongst other Ranger greats of old, his career is very reminiscent to that of Harry Howell.
While Howell played much longer for the Rangers (17 seasons), he wasn’t very flashy. The defenseman was a true soldier for the Blueshirts and guarded his own zone like a Knight of King Arthur’s Court. He played his last NHL game in 1973. It took the Rangers 36 years to give Howell his just due and hung the #3 to the Garden Rafters in February of 2009. Let’s hope the New York Rangers don’t take that long to honor another one of their own homegrown talents.
Girardi was a warrior who bled Rangers blue. A player who sacrificed his body whilst throwing caution to the wind nightly. A leader on the ice, in the room, and in the community. A champion, even if he doesn’t have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup. A real hero has his name engraved on the hearts and minds of those he played with and for. Dan Girardi’s name is certainly engraved on mine.
Thank you Dan.