Dan Girardi Adapting to Life with the Tampa Bay Lightning

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Dan Girardi
TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 14: Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi (5) in the 2nd period of the NHL game between the St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning on October 14, 2017 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

This past June, the New York Rangers bought out the contract of defenceman Dan Girardi, who spent the prior 11 years of his career on Broadway. The Rangers bought out the remaining three years of his original six-year, $33 million contract. Girardi’s emotion; shocked. When free agency opened on July 1st, just two weeks later, Girardi found himself a new home; signing a two-year, $6 million deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Dan Girardi Adapting to Life with the Bolts

Dan Girardi was a Ranger his whole career, each day taking an hour-and-fifteen-minute subway ride into Manhattan. Now he’s just a six-minute car ride from Amalie Arena- his new home. The 33-year-old defenseman was shocked to hear of his contract being bought out, he wasn’t expecting it- he was only picking his son up from school when he got the call. “That was a tough one there,” Girardi told the NY Daily News. “I didn’t even tell my wife yet until I got home. It was still processing a little bit.”

When Girardi was signed by the Lightning, he was excited. It would be a fresh new start in a whole new environment. Not only he was excited, but his teammates and coach as well. “We are the benefactor of a cap world in that regard,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said (NY Daily News). “Ultimately, teams can’t keep everybody. I think it’s kind of been a perfect marriage in the sense that we’ve had some struggles on the penalty kill. We needed that. To bring somebody — kind of a stabilizing force on the back end, he brings that. I think it’s his presence in our locker room, the winning he’s been doing in New York for all these years, and to be honest, he’s a hell of a guy. So he fit what we were looking for.”

Familiar Faces

Girardi joined former teammates Ryan Callahan and Anton Stralman this season when he arrived in Tampa. Girardi was exhilarated to be able to play with Callahan again. The two were close friends when they were teammates in New York, and remained close well after Callahan was traded at the 2014 Trade Deadline. “It’s something you don’t see very much,” Callahan said in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s always nice to have someone close (to) on your team, especially with families. To be able to come full circle and play together again, it’s pretty special.”

Disappointment Leads to Opportunity

Girardi was disappointed that the Rangers let him go, for he was planning to play out the rest of his career under the lights of Broadway, but in his new home in Florida, it’s all the more opportunity to prove himself, something that he is used to.

In an interview with Fox 13 News, Girardi went on to say- “Obviously I’ve played a lot of games for the Rangers in the playoffs and it takes everyone pulling in the same direction. They key is to have that check by your name and get into the playoffs and from there, anything can happen. I got a good sense of urgency with this team. Coming into camp very hard, very competitive and it’s said it hasn’t been like that for a while and I kind of like that. I just think everyone is hungry to get back into the playoffs and make a run at the Stanley Cup.”

Strong Start

The Lightning are hungry, they currently sit in first place in the entire National Hockey League with a record of 11-2-2. Girardi has two assists in those 15 games played, but his role is much bigger than point production. He serves as a voice in the locker room and a role model on the ice. His veteran-ship is something to admire and the young Lightning team looks up to him. Girardi may have been sad to leave New York and the Rangers, but he sure is happy to be in Tampa Bay with the Lightning.

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