For 11 years D Dan Girardi skated to the same blue line on opening night and saluted the same set of fans while wearing the same sweater.
"Like clockwork," he said.
Girardi, one of the Lightning's two offseason free agent signees, will rewrite the familiar script when he is introduced before tonight's game against the Panthers at Amalie Arena.
After 11 seasons in New York with the Rangers, Girardi will begin the next chapter of his career in Tampa Bay.
"It's going to be a little different," he said. "Even during morning skate I'll probably start feeling it a little bit."
Girardi signed a two-year contract during the summer to add some grit the Lightning's defense and penalty kill unit. He joins F Chris Kunitz, the former Penguin who signed a one-year deal, as two veterans expected to add to the leadership on the ice and in the dressing room.
No stranger to season openers, Girardi is eager to get to tonight as the Lightning begin the 25th season in franchise history with the first of 82 games of the regular season.
"The home opener you're always a little nervous anyways," he said. "You get announced. Everyone is excited for the year. The fans want to see a really good game. You want to make an impression, especially with a new team. I want to make sure I play well. This will be a little different."