Former New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi reflected on his time with the Rangers in a recent interview on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast.
Dan Girardi spent 11 seasons with the New York Rangers and was a beloved player on the team. As an undrafted player, he had to make his way to the NHL, and its blue-collar mentality earned him the admiration of New Yorkers. He retired in 2019 while holding the record for most blocked shots in NHL history with 1,954 in 927 games. In an interview with the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast, the former attorney reflected on his Broadway days.
Dan Girardi showed toughness throughout his time with the Rangers:
Girardi made 788 blueshirt appearances between 2006 and 2017, ranking 10th on the team’s all-time appearances list. He holds the franchise record for most postseason appearances as a skater, appearing in 122 games, scoring six goals and scoring 33 points. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has played more games in the playoffs and is the only player to reach 130 games.
Girardi has adapted the game to always push himself. He blocked shots, scored penalties and sacrificed himself every game. He was inspired by fellow Welland, Ontario native Matt Ellis, who played 350 games in the minors before entering the NHL.
Girardi said on the podcast that he got a “hank-stare” from the legendary Rangers goalkeeper when the shot went off a player’s stick when he missed it. Girardi said he understands himself and Marc Stahl the most.
“I tried to stick to my beliefs in everything.
Girardi also detailed the Rangers’ performance in the 2014 Stanley Cup, which ultimately lost to the Los Angeles Kings in five games. “The Stanley Cup final in New York City was unreal. You don’t know how many times you’re going to get there, but unfortunately, we didn’t get there. I think there were three overtime games.
To his credit, Girardi never hesitated to talk about his failures. “It’s been a hard, tough thing to get through, but you gotta get through it. The boys are all great. I had to stand in the media and take it like a champion and get through it. I think everyone had so much respect for that.”
Girardi showed incredible endurance as a hockey player. He admitted he put on his skates half an hour before the warm-up so his feet would fit comfortably. While the Rangers made it from the playoffs to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2015, he had to wear out his ankle after every game. He also detailed the time he later blocked a shot that had a hole in his ankle.
Unfortunately, Girardi’s time with the team didn’t go smoothly and he was acquired by AAV for $5.5 million in 2017 with three years left on his contract.
“I got a call from Jeff Gorton and I can’t say I foresaw it coming. I didn’t like the feeling. I had a concussion in the last game of the year and tried to get back in the Pittsburgh Series right away.
“I didn’t like how things were that year either, so that call was right before I was going to pick my son up from school. It was a long walk.”
His best memory is the 2012 season, when he made an All-Star game, finished sixth in the Norris Trophy, and picked up two first-place votes. He dates back to his junior hockey days, playing two years with the Tampa Bay Lightning before retiring after playing eight years with teammate Ryan Callahan, who played 11 years with the Blueshirts.
Girardi also shared a humorous story about the cheers he heard from the Madison Square Garden crowd. Rangers fans have been known to serenade the goalkeeper and call former netminder Lundqvist ‘Aigol’ instead of ‘Henrik’. During these chants, Girardi, Stahl and Ryan McDonagh often joked on the bench, which Girardi relayed. “If me or Starlsey or Mack make a big block, the next shot will be saved by Hank.
Girardi said he had a good relationship with coach John Tortorella, who liked to provoke his players. “There was a game in Anaheim where I was (-4). The next day we had a filming session at a restaurant inside the Honda Center. Toots stopped and asked if I had anything to say about this.”
But he is in no hurry. Girardi likes his current job as an assistant to the Buffalo Sabers’ NHL coaching staff.
“I have a unique role with the Buffalo Sabers.
Girardi was the Sabers’ assistant coach from 2020 to 2021, but resigned to spend more time with his family. He focuses on attention to detail in in-game decision-making, and in his spare time he coaches his son’s U14 team, but meeting the expectations of the children is the hardest part.
“Everybody looks at McDavid and is worried about being the nicest kid. But I pulled out some D-Money clips to show you how it’s done.”
Girardi’s constant message to his team is to play to your strengths, compete, grow and be a good teammate. He will challenge himself in the future. He’s done that throughout his time as a Ranger, and his efforts should be appreciated by the fans.
- Published on July 19, 2023 at 23:00
- Last updated: July 19, 2023 23:00 PM