After 13 NHL seasons, veteran defenseman Dan Girardi has decided to hang up his skates. The 35-year old played the last two seasons of his career with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but became an unrestricted free agent this summer. Girardi released a statement through the Lightning to give thanks for everything that has helped him along the way:
I would like to thank all my coaches, family, friends and teammates for supporting me throughout my entire hockey career. 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.
Girardi’s career will end after 927 regular season games but he may be best known for his work in the postseason. An absolute warrior in the playoffs, he ended up playing in 143 contests with the Rangers and Lightning, averaging nearly 23 minutes a night. In fact, during the Rangers’ Stanley Cup runs in the early part of the 2010’s, Girardi was playing nearly half the game, shutting down the opponent’s top players on a nightly basis. Those playoff runs never did end in triumph, but he’ll still go down as 30th all-time in playoff games by a defenseman, reaching the postseason in 12 of 13 seasons.