Dan Girardi deserves more respect from Rangers fans

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 19: Dan Girardi #5 of the New York Rangers waits for a faceoff against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on January 19, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Rangers defeated the Maple Leafs 5-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 19: Dan Girardi #5 of the New York Rangers waits for a faceoff against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on January 19, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Rangers defeated the Maple Leafs 5-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Former New York Rangers defenseman, Dan Girardi, reflected on his Rangers tenure in a recent interview with the Spittin Chiclets podcast. 

Dan Girardi was a beloved player for the New York Rangers, having spent 11 seasons on the team. As an undrafted player, he had to work his way to the NHL, earning the admiration of New Yorkers for his blue-collar mentality. He retired in 2019, holding the record for the most blocked shots in NHL history with 1,954 in 927 games.  In an interview with the Spittin Chiclets Podcast, the former defenseman reflected on his Broadway tenure.

Dan Girardi displayed toughness throughout Rangers tenure:

Girardi played 788 games with the Blueshirts from 2006-2017, ranking him tenth on the team’s all-time list for games played. He holds the franchise record for most postseason games played as a skater with 122 games, scoring 6 goals and earning 33 points. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is the only player with more playoff games played, accumulating 130 games.

Girardi adapted his game to put his body on the line consistently. He blocked shots, killed penalties, and sacrificed his body each game. He was inspired by fellow Welland, Ontario native Matt Ellis, who played 350 games in the minors before making it to the NHL.

When he messed up, Girardi told the podcast he received the “Hank Stare” when a shot would go off of a player’s stick and by the legendary Rangers goaltender. Girardi said he and Marc Staal got it the most.
“I tried to get my stick on everything. I tell all my kids on my team, stick-on-puck that’s the best skill to have. Active sticks, it’s disrupting everything, but maybe if I go back in time when the guy is going down the wing, like a nothing flip on the net, why even put the stick there unless I can really get there because those shots sometimes are the ones that go in.”

Girardi also elaborated on the Rangers’ 2014 Stanley Cup run, where they eventually fell 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, and unfortunately, we just couldn’t get it done. I think we had three overtime games. Yours truly gave one up to Mr. Game Seven, Justin Williams, in Game 1 for the overtime winner.”

To his credit, Girardi doesn’t shy away from talking about his blunder. “That’s hard to get over, that was a tough one, but you got to move past it. All the boys are great; I had to stand up in the media, take it like a champ, and go through it. I think everyone had a lot of respect for that.” Girardi never got closer and said it was the one thing that kept him out of his hometown sports hall of fame in Welland.

Girardi showed incredible perseverance as a hockey player. He admitted to putting his skate on half an hour before warmups so his foot could fit comfortably. He had to drain his ankle after every game during the Rangers’ playoff run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2015. He also detailed the time he blocked a shot that put a hole in his ankle afterward.


Unfortunately, Girardi’s time with the team didn’t end smoothly, as he was bought out in 2017 with three years left on his contract that carried a $5.5M AAV.
“Jeff Gorton called me, I wouldn’t say I saw it coming. I didn’t like the feeling. I got a concussion the last game of the year and I tried to come back for the Pittsburgh series right away. I tried to come back too early, we lost in 5 in Pittsburgh and that was the last game I played as a Ranger.

“I didn’t like how it was going that year either so that call was right before I was going to pick up my son from school. That was a long walk.” Girardi’s time in New York ended without full fan appreciation.

His favorite memory was the 2012 season, where he was an All-Star and finished sixth for the Norris Trophy, even earning two first-place votes.  He retired after two years with the Tampa Bay Lightning, along with teammate Ryan Callahan, with whom he played for 11 years, dating back to their junior hockey days and eight years together as Blueshirts.

Girardi also shared a humorous story about the cheers heard from the Madison Square Garden crowd. Rangers fans are known for serenading goalies and chanting “I-GOR” instead of “HEN-RIK” for Lundqvist,  their previous netminder. During those chants, Girardi, Staal, and Ryan McDonagh would often joke on the bench, as relayed by Girardi. “Me, Staalsy, or Mac would have a big block, and the next shot, Hank would save it. They’d be cheering (HEN-RIK), and we’d be like (STAAL-SY, D-MONEY), never once got that (laughing).”

Girardi said he had a good relationship with coach John Tortorella, who liked to provoke players. “There was one game in Anaheim where I was a (-4). The next day we had a film session at one of the restaurants in the Honda Center. Torts stopped and asked do you have anything to say about this?” “I said no, it was a bad game. I have to move past it.” Girardi also said he would love to coach with him someday.

However, he’s in no rush. Girardi likes his current job as Assistant to the NHL coaching staff for the Buffalo Sabres.
“I have a unique role with the Buffalo Sabres. I go to as many practices and home games as I can. They give me the third-period portion of the film to break down and then we combine our tapes and the coaching staff will use it when going over the footage with the defenseman.” Girardi said he watched “three hours” of video in his entire 13-year career and said he wished he wants more because of how much you could gain from it.

Girardi was an assistant coach for the Sabres in 2020-2021 but wanted more family time, so he stepped down. He emphasizes attention to detail in making in-game decisions and coaches his son’s U14 team in his spare time, managing kids’ expectations being the hardest part.

“Everyone watches Mcdavid and is worried about being the best kid. But I would pull up a few D-money clips and show them how it’s done.”


Girardi’s constant message to his team is if you stick to your strengths, compete, improve, and be a good teammate. You’ll give yourself a shot in the future. He did that throughout his time as a Ranger and should be appreciated by fans for his efforts.