Thank You Dan Girardi: Dan Girardi’s 11 Year New York Ranger Career Becomes The Latest Victim of the Salary Cap Era, My Personal Favorite Dan Girardi Memory, What Dan Girardi Meant to NYR Fans, Comments From Iron Man Dan, Looking Where Dan Girardi Plays Next Season, The Lundqvist Question No One Can Give Me An Answer To, Derek Stepan Next To Go & More

This game is still one of my favorite games of all time.

 

NOTE: I posted a double-blog on Monday, which you can read here:

BCBS Update: The Pittsburgh Penguins Win the Stanley Cup & Could Be Back Next Season, Brutal Officiating Ruins The Best Playoffs in Sports as the Refs “Catfish” the Predators, Mike Milbury’s Racist Vibes, Hagelin/Etem, Latest NYR Rumblings, The Most Unique Belmont Stakes Live Experience Review You’ll Ever Read, Jeremy Roenick Autobiography Book Review & Much More

At the end of that blog, I said I’ll try to do a blog once a week during the off-season, barring something big breaking. Well after posting that blog, the Rangers have bought out Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein is about to retire from the NHL & Derek Stepan is about to be moved. So much for a nice and relaxing week! I mean, I guess I DON’T have to write, but I have always defended Dan Girardi on these pages and I felt compelled to get something up here.


Thank You Dan Girardi!

On Saturday, April 13th of 2013, my girlfriend & I joined a bunch of friends and made our way to the Nassau Coliseum. Since it was a Saturday, everyone had off of work and had off the next day. There was a huge group of people going to this game, that one of my friends decided to use his church’s van to drive everyone to the game. We pregamed at a local dive bar, had a few road sodas in the van and by the time we pulled up to the worst arena in NHL history, the adrenaline for this game was pumping.

While Rangers vs Islanders is always special, this game was a little bit more special than most. Since it was late into the season, both teams were vying for playoff positioning. (The Rangers & Islanders would both make the playoffs that year.) No matter what sport in New York, whether it’s Mets vs Yankees fans in baseball, Jets vs Giants fans in football or Rangers vs Islanders fans in hockey, the shit-talking & bravado is at its peak when both teams are playing well. It’s even juiced up more in hockey, where all three local teams (NYR/NYI/NJD) all play in the same division.

For the Rangers, they were coming off an Eastern Conference Finals loss the year previous. A warrior named Dan Girardi was blocking shots throughout the whole season & playoffs, with the rest of his teammates. By the time the Rangers drew the Devils in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, the Rangers were eating more rubber than a Tahitian hooker. All the shot blocking had paid its toll on the Rangers. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who I believe was at his absolute peak that season, just couldn’t carry the Rangers to the Cup, unlike the goalie who did win the Cup that season, in Jonathan Quick of the LA Kings.

Fast forward to a year later, as the cold Miller Lite was rushing down my gullet faster than a broken levee during Hurricane Katrina, I stood in the parking lot of the Nassau Coliseum. “LET’S GO RANGERS!/LET’S GO ISLANDERS!” dueling chants broke out. Then you would have “LET’S GO RANGERS!/RANGERS SUCK!” chants infiltrate your ears, like you were at a John Cena WWE match. You see, while the Islanders may have called Nassau Coliseum home, the Rangers & their fans were always the uninvited guest to crash & take over the dump.

You see, whenever you encounter a true Islander fan & they spew their bullshit like they are the second coming of Mount Etna, the fact is that the Islanders will always not only be the red-headed stepchild of hockey in New York, they are the ginger of the whole entire NHL.

Put it this way, in that lockout shortened season, the Islanders were DEAD-LAST in the league when it came to attendance. Hockey in the Sun Belt was more profitable & better attended! However, for all the ghost-town nights at the Coliseum, where you could see a bale of hay floating around like an old western movie, whenever you had Rangers vs Islanders, you had a sell-out.

As the sun lowered its way down on the horizon, the electricity from the parking lot made its way to the building. The old barn was rocking. While you don’t see too much of this any more, especially in the “everyone-has-a-camera-in-their-pocket-and-is-lawsuit-happy” era, there were a few brawls between Rangers & Islander fans. Ranger & Islander fans brawling around like drunken pirates fighting over the last wench on a desert island is not something new. It started the second the Islanders entered the league in 1972.

Speaking of fighting, I would be remiss if I didn’t share this lovely clip, for the 7896796789678969th time on this blog:

Oh Dan Cloutier, I wish you could slap Lundqvist around like this after Lundqvist blames his teammates, like Dan Girardi, after a loss!

Despite the lock-out, both fan bases were riled up and were rip-roaring & ready to go. The NHL has always been and still remains an extremely flawed league, especially under the era of the rat-faced fink Gary Bettman. That said, both fan bases were happy to have their teams back and with both teams doing well, this game was even more important than usual.

On that night, I witnessed one of the best hockey games I’ve ever seen live. I have talked about this game a lot on this blog throughout the three year history of this site. If you aren’t familiar with my work already, you know I’m a big goaltending & defense fan. Sure, goals are pretty and exciting, but give me a fast-paced 0-0 game, with highlight reel saves, over a 6-5 game any day.

With the decibel meter off the charts and a lot on the line, the Rangers and Islanders played a 60 minute classic. The goaltenders, Lundqvist for the Rangers and Nabokov for the Islanders, were lights out. The defenses for both squads were on point. While Lundqvist would finish with 10 more saves than Nabokov (29-19), each team had ample chances to win this game.

After three periods, it was 0-0. We were heading to OT. While both teams looked like they would make the playoffs & got their point, there was the whole issue about bragging rights. Who was going to the parking lot with their heads held high and who was going to be making excuses?

With under two minutes to go in the overtime, Dan Girardi answered the question. Watch the play for yourself:

Dan Girardi, the former all-star and former Norris contender, scored one of the nicest goals of his career that night. (On an aside, look at the roster turnover from a game played only 4 years ago. Del Zaster, Cally & Brassard are just three of the guys that aren’t here anymore and are featured in the picture at the top of this blog.)

For me, when I think of Dan Girardi, this goal & game will always be at the front of my mind. While Girardi has done plenty of great things on and off the ice during his 11 year career, this is my personal favorite Dan Girardi memory. If you’ve been following Girardi’s career, I’m sure you have your own as well.

Even if he had a hole in his ankle, Dan Girardi was on the ice. The guy was the Rangers “Iron Man” for his 11 years in blue.

Let’s get all the official news, notes and comments out of the way.

From NHL.com today:

New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team will buy out the contract of defenseman Dan Girardi.

“Dan’s contributions to the New York Rangers organization have been immeasurable,” Rangers President Glen Sather said. “He has been a role model through his relentless determination, giving everything he had to this organization both on and off the ice. He, Pam, Landon, and Shaye will always be a part of the Rangers family.”

“I would like to thank Dan for everything he has given of himself to the Rangers over 11 seasons,” Gorton said. “He has been one of the key contributors to our success over the past decade. We have the utmost respect for Dan and wish him all the best going forward.”

Girardi, 33, skated in 788 career games with the Rangers, registering 46 goals and 184 assists for 230 points, along with a plus-54 rating and 275 penalty minutes. He ranks ninth on the Rangers’ all-time games played list, and he ranks fifth among Blueshirts defensemen in career games played, only trailing Harry Howell, Brian Leetch, Ron Greschner, and Jim Neilson. In addition, Girardi, who was signed by the Rangers as an undrafted free agent on July 1, 2006, appeared in more games with the Blueshirts than any other undrafted player in franchise history (among players who were eligible to be selected since the NHL Draft was implemented in 1963).

The Welland, Ontario, native helped the Rangers advance to the playoffs 10 times during his 11 seasons with the franchise (2006-07 – 2008-09; 2010-11 – 2016-17), including a trip to the Stanley Cup Final during the 2013-14 season. In addition, Girardi helped the Rangers finish in first place in their division twice during the regular season (Atlantic Division – 2011-12; Metropolitan Division – 2014-15) and finish with the best record in the NHL during the regular season in 2014-15, as the Blueshirts established single-season franchise records with 53 wins and 113 points. Girardi represented the Rangers at the 2012 NHL All-Star Game and finished sixth in voting for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman in 2011-12. He led the league in blocked shots in 2010-11 and 2012-13, and he established career-highs in blocked shots (236), assists (27), and points (31) during the 2010-11 season. In addition, Girardi served as one of the Rangers’ alternate captains since the start of the 2011-12 season.

The 6-1, 212-pounder skated in 788 of 820 regular season games the Rangers played from the time he made his NHL debut on Jan. 27, 2007 through the end of the 2016-17 regular season (96.1%), including 651 of 656 regular season games the team played from Jan. 27, 2007 through the end of the 2014-15 regular season (99.2%). Girardi has skated in at least 80 games in seven seasons in his career, and he has played all 82 games of a season five times. Since the NHL implemented an 82-game schedule in 1995-96, Girardi and Brian Leetch are the only Rangers who have played all 82 games in five different seasons. Since he made his NHL debut, Girardi leads the NHL in blocked shots (1,691) and ranks fourth among NHL defensemen in games played (788).

Girardi skated in 122 career playoff games with the Rangers, registering six goals and 27 assists for 33 points, along with 36 penalty minutes. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in playoff games played (among skaters) and only trails Henrik Lundqvist (128) in career playoff appearances by a Ranger. Girardi also holds the franchise record (among skaters) in consecutive playoff games, as he skated in 109 consecutive playoff games with the Rangers from his NHL playoff debut in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Atlanta in 2007 to Game 1 of the First Round against Pittsburgh in 2016. Girardi’s 27 career playoff assists and 33 career playoff points rank fifth among Rangers defensemen in franchise history. Girardi registered three game-winning goals during the 2012 Playoffs, including one in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals vs. Ottawa on April 26, 2012, and his three game-winning goals were tied for the fourth-most a Ranger has recorded in one playoff year in franchise history. Girardi led the NHL in blocked shots (67) and led NHL defensemen in hits (80) during the 2014 Playoffs while helping the Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

During his tenure with the Rangers, Girardi received several team and league awards and nominations. He was the Rangers’ nominee twice for the Bill Masterton Trophy (2011-12 and 2016-17), which is awarded annually to the NHL player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.” Girardi received the John Halligan Good Guy Award in 2012-13 for his cooperation with the media, and he was named the Rangers Fan Club Rookie of the Year in 2006-07.

The following comes from Dan Girardi himself:

You know Girardi is a great guy when he thanks his trainer off the bat.

 

From Girardi’s now ex-teammates:

Mats Zuccarello on Girardi – “Probobly over 1500 blocked shots the last 10 years. Played with alot of injuries and always gave 100% for the blueshirts. Everyone gonna miss u 5’er. Good luck to u👊 #machine

Ryan McDonagh on Girardi – “What a competitor who cares more about his teammates than himself. A true pro who taught me a lot about the game when I was just getting started. Thanks for everything G!! We will miss you.”

Henrik Lundqvist on Girardi – “For 11 years you have left everything you had in front of me. The way you competed and paid the price night in and night out inspired me more than you know. Will miss you on and off the ice. To me you are the definition of a warrior and I will ALWAYS appreciate what you have done for me and our team over the years. Thank you G!”

I can’t help myself here – fuck Henrik Lundqvist and his crocodile tears. Lundqvist had no problems throwing Girardi under the bus after every game Lundqvist lost. I wish it was Lunqvist packing his bags!

Now to explain the buyout, here’s this from CapFriendly:

The Rangers lose Girardi and now have dead money on the books for the next few seasons.

You know when M$G does their video package for Girardi next season, this picture will be used.

My thoughts on this deal? I get why it was done, but I have so many questions. For starters, why Girardi? Why not Marc Staal? I know Girardi’s contract features less dead money, but if you’re gonna spend money to buy someone out, why not buy out the worse contract? To me, Girardi is so much better than Staal at this stage of their careers. I know Girardi is older, but I don’t think Marc Staal has ever been the same player ever since the eye injury. At least when Girardi is 100% healthy, he has been a force for these Rangers.

As the Dan Girardi news broke today, two other major Ranger news items broke. For starters, Kevin Klein will be leaving the Rangers & retiring from the NHL. It is reported that he will go play in Europe. Kinda sucks that Klein picked this time to retire, because Girardi will be dominating all the Ranger headlines, and it will be Stepan thereafter.

However, the Klein retirement goes hand-in-hand with Girardi’s buyout. With Klein retiring, the Rangers save money off the strict salary cap and can use that money to buy out Girardi. In essence, the right side of the Rangers defense will be completely overhauled next season, for better or for worse.

The other rumor, reported by the respected Bob McKenzie, is that Derek Stepan will be moved from the Rangers before his No Move Clause can kick in.

For guys like Girardi & Stepan and if you go back, Brad Richards, it really is not their fault. It is the fault of SENILE SATHER for giving out these ridiculous contracts in the first place. What just drives me insane is that you can see that GM Jeff Gorton is trying to undo a lot of Sather’s bad moves. With that being the case – WHY THE FUCK DOES SENILE SATHER STILL GET A PAYCHECK FROM THIS TEAM? HOW IS HE JEFF GORTON’S BOSS?

This is like going to work for a fucking moron who fucks everything up and then tells you to go fix his mistakes. Infuriating.

The blame game concerning Girardi always drove me nuts.

One of the many reasons I can’t stand Henrik Lundqvist is that he will take all the credit after a win and rarely thank his defense. When the Rangers lose, he rarely accepts responsibility and does the “WE, WE, WE” and blames the defense. Granted, we all know I’m the guy who has been clamoring for Lundqvist’s exit for years. If you don’t know why, just go to the archives of this site, located on the right hand side.

That said, I read a lot of fans doing back-flips and social media high-fiving regarding Girardi’s departure. Keep in mind – this is SENILE SATHER’s fault for giving out these bad deals. However, when I read fans saying stuff “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out” or “good bye and good riddance”, it did bother me. Sure, people will say I’m hypocritical here, because I’ll be the first person to pack Lundqvist’s bags to get him out of town, but Dan Girardi never hit a woman nor did he state “I want to win a Cup in NY at all costs” then pull the shit that Lundqvist did during his contract negotiations.

What I don’t understand and what not ONE Lundqvist supporter could explain to me was this: If you are so happy about Girardi (And eventually Stepan) leaving the team, then why do you want the highest paid goalie under contract? Can someone answer this for me? Anyone? Bueller?

You simply can not go around saying “The Rangers need to buy out Staal & Girardi” or “The Rangers gotta trade Stepan” and then ignore Henrik Lundqvist. HE IS THE HIGHEST PAID PLAYER ON THE TEAM. How many times must I give you my “there hasn’t been one Top 5 paid goalie to win a Stanley Cup in the Cap Era” spiel?

If you’re going to rebuild this team and try to put this team into a better salary cap situation, then why the fuck are you paying a declining and aging goalie the most money in the league? Plus with Lundqvist, it’s the same shit every year.  Here’s your typical Lundqvist season ever since he ripped the Rangers & Sather off during his contract negotiations:

  • Start off slow. Use the “Lundqvist usually starts slow excuse.” YOU’RE PAID THE MOST IN THE FUCKING LEAGUE! WHAT KIND OF BULL SHIT IS THAT? Someone let me know if they can do jack shit at their job for a month or two and then tell their boss that “you always start a new project slow.” Tell me how that fucking goes!
  • Get injured. Fact is, Lundqvist has missed a lot of games because of injuries. He’s currently injured now. Athletes don’t get stronger and recuperate faster with age. But hey, let’s make him the most fucking paid player on the team!
  • Has an unbelievably terrible stretch of games. The back-up goalie will split time and post better records than the goalie making $8 million more.
  • Rest Lundqvist for the playoffs. That didn’t happen this year because Lundqvist had his period in March. But it’s always rest Lundqvist for the playoffs so he is refreshed at the handshake line every Spring.

Listen, I liked Dan Girardi. I know why he was bought out, with my biggest contention being “Why not Marc Staal?” However, you just can’t sit and tell me that you want all these guys bought out, drafted by Vegas or traded, but ignore Lundqvist and his ridiculous contract.

Please, before you comment to me, save me the “DO YOO NO WHAT LUNDQUISS HAS DUN FOUR THIS TEEM?” Yes, I’m aware of Lundqvist’s accomplishments. However, I’m aware of Dan Girardi’s accomplishments too. For the same reason Girardi is moving on, Lundqvist should go too. Both were once great hockey players that are paid too much money in 2017.

If you really think Lundqvist can win a cup and building around your goalie is what wins in this era of the NHL, you are delusional. Sorry. Lundqvist had a great career, will have his numbers in the rafters, rah-rah-rah, but you simply can’t win a Cup when your goalie is your biggest Cap hit. If the Rangers want to learn from teams that actually WIN Stanley Cups in this era, they should restructure their squad to reflect it. You need a good goalie for sure, but you don’t need a relic from the past.

And yes, while I can’t stand Lundqvist, I don’t think that you could win a Cup with Roy or Brodeur, if they were your highest paid player, in this salary cap era either.

Image result for stepan girardi

“Fuck this shit Dan, let’s win a Cup in Pittsburgh like Carlos!”

When I think of Dan Girardi, he reminds me of ex-Yankee Paul O’Neill. Both athletes embodied the word “WARRIOR.” There is no better suitable adjective to describe Girardi. No offense to the deceased raving lunatic formerly known as Jim Hellwig, but when I think of the name “THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR”, I think Dan Girardi.

Dan Girardi finishes his 11 year Rangers career with 1650 regular season blocked shots. If you include his playoff runs, where he made the playoffs 10 out of 11 years, he had a combined total of 2038 blocked shots. Obviously, shot blocking isn’t a stat that was recorded throughout NHL history, nor have I watched every game in the Rangers 90 year history, but it is safe to say that Dan Girardi probably blocked more shots than any other Ranger in team history.

One stat I saw, that I found interesting that is if you counted blocked shots as saves, Girardi would rank 230th all time!

One of the reasons Girardi has declined and has been injury prone these last few seasons is because of all the shot blocking. Like an NHL enforcer that no longer can win fights, Girardi paid the price for his shot blocking.

The thing is this – Dan Girardi is still an NHL player. When I read some of these takes on Girardi, I feel like I’m reading an obituary. Girardi will be in the league next season and maybe for a few more seasons after that. However, it is because of the FAILURE that is Glen Sather, that the Rangers are forced to move on from his contract. While Girardi has built up a lot of equity and memories for the Rangers, this is a business. It’s the same logic I apply when I do my “Get rid of Lundqvist” manifestos.

I have defended Dan Girardi on this blog time and time again from his critics. I always liked the gritty “put your body on the line” type of players. I am sad to see Dan Girardi go. While there are people talking about having his number retired, and as someone with the 9th most amount of games played in Rangers history, I can see the debate, I think it’s too early for that. Plus, Bill Cook should be the guy to have his number 5 in the rafters anyway.

Image result for nhl metro division teams

There is no doubt in my mind that Dan Girardi can still contribute to a Stanley Cup winning team. The question for him now is – “where do I go?”

There are several teams that are probably logical for Girardi. The Devils & Islanders are probably teams Girardi has to consider, because he lives in the area. However, Girardi is 33 years old and the clock is ticking. He has his life changing money. What’s more important, playing close to home or winning the Stanley Cup?

I can’t speak for Dan Girardi, but if I was a pro athlete that was set for life financially, I would do what Ray Bourque did and try to win a Cup with the best team in the league. To me, the Ray Bourque Colorado Avalanche of today is the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sure, playing in his hometown of Toronto sounds nice, but Toronto still has a ways to go before they are winning a Cup. Plus it’s 50+ years since they’ve seen one there. They are almost as pathetic as the Rangers.

In addition, many athletes say they don’t like to play for their hometown anyway because it’s too distracting. Just something to keep in mind.

If I’m Dan Girardi, the Pittsburgh Penguins are a perfect fit. They need another solid defenseman. Girardi is getting paid by the Rangers anyway. Just like Richards did in 2014 after his buyout, Girardi should go to the best team in the league and play for a salary hovering above the veteran’s minimum. In Pittsburgh, which again, needs third pair defensemen, Girardi won’t have the weight of the world on his shoulders like he did with the Rangers. He won’t be paid and be asked to be the second best defenseman on the team.

For Girardi, playing in Pittsburgh will be less taxing on his body. He could join a winning culture and work with the best GM in the league today. Rangers who get away from the losing environment that Lundqvist has extended here with his contract, have found success and Cups elsewhere. All Girardi has to do is ask Carl Hagelin, another victim of Lundqvist’s contract in the salary cap era.

For me, I can’t envision Girardi taking the best money offer available. If a team like Arizona offered him the most money in the league, why would Girardi even waste his time? To me, and because it really is a perfect fit, Girardi & the Penguins seems like the right match.

Stepan, a guy who once played with a broken jaw, is most likely to be the next salary cap victim.

I’m already 4000+ words in and didn’t expect to be doing another blog this week! I feel that things will be busier for the Rangers. The Kevin Klein retirement isn’t 100% official but expected. Derek Stepan hasn’t been traded yet, but it is expected. Outside of Girardi, the only other official NYR move today was the re-signing of Matt Puempel, who will just be used to be exposed in the Vegas draft.

I’ve talked a lot about the upcoming Vegas draft and gave my thoughts already. I still think Raanta is the guy for Vegas because the Rangers are so bone-headed and will continue to fail with Lundqvist. Since the Rangers are keeping King Cupless, they should try to trade Raanta and at least get something back. It’s tough to really predict who Vegas will take because we, as the public, don’t know the underhanded and back door deals that are currently being made.

I think Lindberg is the worst of the four rumored names, which also includes Fast, Grabner and Raanta. I think the Rangers gotta make some deal with Vegas to protect Fast & Grabner and let them take Lindberg. However, if no deal is made, if I’m Vegas, and Raanta is unavailable, I would go with Fast because he is someone you may be able to build around long term.

With Girardi gone and Stepan most likely gone, that opens 2 alternate captain spots for next season. To me, Mats Zuccarello has to be a slam dunk for an “A” on his jersey. Either way, this Rangers team next season will be different than this season.

As I said in my last blog, I’m trying to keep it to one blog a week, but as news trickles in I’ll jump in. Maybe I’ll just chill with the social media plugging, so keep checking back here for more Ranger opinions as the news is made!

If you missed Monday’s double blog, you can find it here:

BCBS Update: The Pittsburgh Penguins Win the Stanley Cup & Could Be Back Next Season, Brutal Officiating Ruins The Best Playoffs in Sports as the Refs “Catfish” the Predators, Mike Milbury’s Racist Vibes, Hagelin/Etem, Latest NYR Rumblings, The Most Unique Belmont Stakes Live Experience Review You’ll Ever Read, Jeremy Roenick Autobiography Book Review & Much More

 

Thank you Dan Girardi and good luck winning the Cup next season. It’s not like the Rangers will with Lundqvist’s contract!

As always,

“Let’s Go Rangers”

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on the tweeter gimmick

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