The New York Rangers, the Wild Card and the Sweet Spot 1
Mar 31, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) and Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi (5) celebate the game tying goal aginst the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

By now most of us know that the New York Rangers and Dan Girardi have agreed to a buyout with the rest of his contract — clearly a business, not personal move. No. 5 has been a defensive rock for the last 11 years in the Red, White and Blue, and although on paper this move makes sense, you fans should know what Dan Girardi has given to the New York Rangers organization goes well beyond goals and assists. He’s given this team and organization a sense of heart and grit. Something that will need to carry over for this team in order to be successful.

Dear Dan Girardi,

Thank you for all that you’ve given to the New York Rangers organization. You’re truly the definition of a “teammate” and a “heart and soul guy,” and you will be greatly missed by teammates and fans alike. It’s not too often an undrafted defenseman becomes such a fan favorite like you did.

No, you didn’t do it with fancy play or huge stats. You did it with honest and simple play on the ice, and a charismatic and funny charm off the ice. Never once did you let the media get to you or the way some fans clamored for your separation from the Rangers. You handled it with class and you gave it your absolute all.

Since your debut in the league back in 2007, there’s not one player who has blocked more shots and given up his body for the betterment of the team, more than you. A stat that won’t go into the Hockey Hall of Fame, or be celebrated to the casual hockey fan, but in reality someone who truly knows the game can really appreciate. It’s no question that your ability to keep up in the modern day NHL was hindered over the course of time by injuries. Injuries you accumulated while accompanying the Rangers through some of the organization’s best times while being a stalwart on the defensive end.

But despite these injuries, you still managed to play in almost every game, a whopping 788 out of 820 possible games. Many fans will always associate the word “warrior” when your name gets mentioned I know I always will.

You made your debut in the 2006-07 season with the Rangers, after one full season with the Hartford Wolfpack. You staked claim to your spot because you believed in yourself and the type of game you played. You never seemed to waver from that type of game, even when the NHL began to evolve. What impressed me most G, is how much your teammates seemed to love and respect you.

Every guy could go on and on talking about you and what a teammate you are. Every youth, high school, junior, college player should strive to be as good of a teammate as you. There’s something to be said about being a good teammate, and how that makes a team more successful.

Stuff like this doesn’t just happen to anyone. This respect is earned. Undrafted, drafted, first overall, it didn’t matter. Every year those 25 or so guys in the dressing room with you respected you.

It’s hard to talk about the final year for you in a Rangers sweater. Yes, it was clear the injuries were taking their toll and the game becoming faster and younger every day, it quite simply was passing you by. It’s also hard to think about how it ended for you. But again, you were able to handle this situation with class and poise.

Ranger fans, remember this: Girardi was a core part of this group through some of the organization’s best times. He assisted on Derek Stepan’s Game 7 Overtime Goal to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals in ’13.

Dan, you will forever be cemented as one of the harder working blue-collar defensemen for the New York Rangers. You earned that. I’m sure you’ll have aches and pains to remember that by as well. We wish you nothing but the best in the future Dan, for both you and your family.

I hope you get to continue your career somewhere and I hope you find success wherever that may be. You’re an all time warrior and you will be extremely hard to replace. It’s been a pleasure these last 11 years.

Thank you, G.

Neal Purcell has a tremendous passion for New York Rangers hockey and the sport of hockey in general. A graduate of SUNY Cortland in Upstate NY, Purcell coaches both a high school hockey team and a travel team in the winter. Purcell is also a part of a small family business in the Central New York Region.