True Warrior Dan Girardi retires

After 13 years, Dan Girardi called it a career today. Once undrafted, he became a fixture on the Rangers defense.

One of Glen Sather’s best signings, he developed into a shutdown defenseman who did whatever it took to help the Blueshirts win games. For 11 years, Girardi wore the Rangers jersey with pride and passion. He would frequently sacrifice his body for the cause. Whether it was a huge hit or death defying block, number 5 was a true warrior.

Imagine going from not even drafted to a key piece of those teams that went deep in the playoffs. They made three Conference Finals and one Stanley Cup appearance between 2012 and 2015. They don’t get there without Girardi, who frequently paired up with Marc Staal and then Ryan McDonagh.

The Rangers paid tribute to him in a special video tribute with praise from Henrik Lundqvist, Chris Kreider and Staal. They know what he meant.

Girardi was like having a second goalie. How many times would he lay out for the good of the team? Some of the blocks were insane. There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for his teammates. It’s no wonder he became such a popular Ranger with appreciative fans, who loved the heart he played with.

It’s still hard to believe he finished his career with the Lightning. But that’s where all former Rangers seem to wind up. In Tampa at Rangers South. Ryan Callahan recently had to retire too due to injury. He was a lot like Girardi. I guess it’s just ironic. I knew this day was coming.

Staal made sure to talk further about what he admired most about his former partner. When you really think about it, that’s how it started. With 18 and 5 on the blueline. They both are warriors.

One day when Staal reaches this point in his career, Garden Faithful will feel similarly. All the criticism will go away like it did for Girardi. Deep down, these guys are revered for what they give.

The end of the old Black and Blueshirts Era is coming soon. Staal and Lundqvist are the only remaining members. Both have lasted a long time. They still have more to give. Kreider too even though I don’t think of him that way due to arriving during the Spring of 2012. He has a lot more left.

Thank you to No. 5, Dan Girardi for becoming one of my favorite players to represent this city. Enjoy your retirement.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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