Former Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi has announced that he is retiring from professional hockey. Girardi has spent the past two seasons with the Lightning after having been bought out by the New York Rangers, the only other NHL team he played for in his career. Girardi was never drafted and had to earn his way into the NHL. Once he did, he never let go of his opportunity.
“I would like to thank all my coaches, family, friends and teammates for supporting me throughout my entire hockey career,” Girardi said. “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.
“I gave my all every single night and left it all out on the ice. Now it’s time for the next chapter of my life to begin and I couldn’t be happier...and so is my body.”
Girardi skated a total of 139 games plus 21 playoff games for the Lightning. He recorded 10 goals and 34 points over two seasons. Girardi ends his career with 927 games played with 56 goals and 264 points. He played in 143 playoff games, which is 30th all-time by a defenseman. Girardi only played for two teams during his NHL career: the Rangers and the Lightning.
Girardi played for the Barrie Colts, Guelph Storm, and London Knights during his OHL career. After failing to be drafted, the New York Rangers invited him to camp prior to the 2005-06 season and signed him to an AHL contract. He started the season in the ECHL with the Charlotte Checkers and scored five points in seven games. He was called up to the Hartford Wolf Pack and put up eight goals and 39 points in 66 games.
Following the 2005-06 season, Girardi was signed to an entry level contract by the Rangers. In 45 games in 2006-07 for Hartford, he recorded two goals and 24 points. He was called up to the NHL later in the season due to an injury and remained up with the Rangers for 34 games and ten playoff games. Once Girardi made it the NHL, he never gave up that opportunity, and did not return to the minor leagues.
Girardi had his detractors through his career, and it seemed he was often asked to do too much while with the Rangers. What you couldn’t deny about Girardi was that he gave his all on the ice night after night. He sacrificed his body blocking shots and had his share of bruises, dings, and dents to go with those blocks.
The other thing that will always stick in my memory from his two years here was his infectious smile. Watching him during warm ups, he was always laughing, joking, smiling. Just keeping things light. I like to imagine that he was the same way in the locker room, able to lighten the mood at just the right time.
Thank you for these past two years, G. It’s been great having you in Tampa. Everyone at RawCharge would like to wish you and your family all the best in your retirement.