This might be uncomfortable for some of us, or tear-inducing for others, but one way or another it has to happen – it’s time to assess Dan Girardi’s performance during the 2016-17 season as a New York Ranger.
You, like many of us, may already have your mind made up one way or another about Dan Girardi, but hopefully this report card makes you reconsider at least some of your preconceived notions about the (now ex) Rangers stalwart. Dan Girardi was part of the heart and soul of this team for many years, part of the team’s revival into relevancy under John Tortorella, and as such deserves an open, yet critical mind.
REGULAR SEASON: 63 GP 4 G 11 A 16 PIM 44.06 5v5 CF%
POST SEASON: 12 GP 0 G 2 A 2 PIM 46.10 5v5 CF%
So listen, just by the numbers, it’s readily apparent that he didn’t have a good season or postseason. At a 44.06 5v5 CF% during the regular season, he was even worse than Marc Staal, which is saying something since Staal had what could be easily described as his worst season yet as a Ranger. Girardi wasn’t quite as bad as last year (last year his 5v5 CF% was 41.70 – woof), but by no means did he play well. You might, in the most generous sense of the phrase say he had a bounce back year, but that’s really not saying much.
Now, there’s one major caveat to this – he was playing injured for a decent portion of the year and as a general rule, his body has probably seen more wear and tear than most of the players on the roster over the course of his Rangers career. It’s safe to say that his poor play is not quite 100% entirely his fault, although you could make a strong argument that it’s mostly his fault. I’ll leave deciding how much to blame on Dan Girardi the hockey player and how much to blame on Dan Girardi the body up to you.
Still, despite the vast majority of his play involving blown coverage, snow angels, errant passes, getting hemmed in his own zone, etc etc etc, he still did manage some nice plays over the course of the regular and post season, a pair of which you can find below. Credit where credit is due right? A broken clock is right twice a day and Dan Girardi is still a professional hockey player capable of doing cool things – so it’s not all bad.
I want to touch on what to me is perhaps his most important accomplishment as a Ranger. This is not just a 2016-17 achievement either, but something that developed over time and came to a head these past couple of season, ultimately culminating in him being bought out at the beginning of this offseason. I am speaking of course of the way in which Dan Girardi served as the conduit for a broad swatch of conflicts that laid bare the contradictions and factionalism of Rangerstown, which he eventually resolved by taking a buyout with dignity and grace and magically transforming into Kevin Shattenkirk.
You see, Dan Girardi was a divisive player in his time as a New York Ranger, and I think he deserves some credit for that, and for the way the battle lines drawn around him led to what I would actually say was a productive discourse that transformed our Rangers community for the better. Girardi’s time as a Ranger drew out the divide between the old, shot blocking ways of Torts and the new speed and skill game of Alain Vigneault, the rift between stats based analysis and the ever hard to pin down “eye test”, and the gulf between those who value heart and soul locker room contributions and those who see on-ice production as paramount.
This conflict helped define the fandom in the time since his most recent contract. Despite the fact that this conflict was never really was about him he served as both the Gatekeeper and the Keymaster in unleashing the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man style apocalypse upon the Garden Faithful. Now, the act of cleaning off the exploded marshmallow fluff has left us all refreshed and renewed. This civil war was certainly taxing at times, but the gaps in understanding (hopefully) caused us all to interrogate our own beliefs and decide what we really see when we watch hockey, what we value, and what kind of players we want on our team.
Through thesis and antithesis eventually came synthesis in Kevin Shattenkirk and though the seeds of this new consensus’s undoing remain embedded in our community in the inevitable criticisms of Shatty’s defensive game and locker room presence, we now have peace in Rangerstown, washed clean by the conflict Dan Girardi served as the embodiment of.
In this role and in his time as a Ranger, he served with dignity and grace, and for that he ought to be appreciated. Ultimately, he deserves two grades for this past season, one representing his on-ice play and the other defining his dialectic function and the way that it improved Rangerstown.
DAN GIRARDI THE PLAYER: D
DAN GIRARDI THE POLEMIC: A+