1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Lightning

Former Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi announces his retirement

The 35-year-old played 13 seasons total, making the playoffs 12 of those.
Former Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi announced his retirement on Friday. [SHADD, DIRK | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Sep. 20
Updated Sep. 21

BRANDON — Dan Girardi has a good sense of timing. He knows when to crack a joke, when to be serious, when to stay quiet.

After 13 seasons, Girardi knows it’s time to step away from the game. The former Lightning defenseman announced his retirement Friday.

In a statement, the 35-year-old joked that his body is happy with his decision.

“I gave my all every single night and left it all out on the ice,” he said. “Now it’s time for the next chapter of my life to begin, and I couldn’t be happier … and so is my body.”

MORE LIGHTNING: Join our Lightning Strikes! Facebook group for conversation, polls, story links and more

Girardi became an unrestricted free agent after last season with the Lightning, which declined to re-sign him. But they knew they’d miss his personality in the dressing room.

“He brought a lot of life to the room with his sense of humor,” coach Jon Cooper said. “I think that’s why he was adored by everybody, because of how hard he played on the ice and how great of a guy he was off (it).”

Victor Hedman, who was paired with Girardi for much of Girardi’s two seasons in Tampa Bay, called him a “great human being” and the funniest player on the team.

“He can look back at an unbelievable career,” Hedman said. “I’m just happy he’s still in Tampa and I’ll still see him around.”

Girardi played his first 11 years with the Rangers. He was a traditional stay-at-home defenseman, with 264 points in 927 games. Girardi’s teams made it to the playoffs 12 of his 13 years, including both with the Lightning. He is 30th all time among defenseman with 143 playoff games.

Since the league started reporting blocked shots in 2005, Girardi has been credited with the most, 1,954. He led the Lightning in blocked shots over his two seasons with 263.

Hedman also credited Girardi’s team-first attitude, particularly in the way he blocked shots. Girardi once took a shot to the neck “and he didn’t care,” Hedman said.

Cooper cited Girardi’s fearlessness, calling him the ultimate teammate. He said Girardi was the kind of player who, with five seconds left and the game in hand, was still blocking the shot “just because.”

In a video the Rangers posted on Twitter, Henrik Lundqvist said that as a goalie, he appreciates the way Girardi played the game. It was “amazing to watch and amazing to be a teammate,” he said.

MORE LIGHTNING: Louis Domingue and Mike Condon hit the waiver wire

In the same video, defenseman Marc Staal told Girardi to “enjoy not taking slap shots to the ankle anymore” and said he deserves the time off.

Ryan Callahan, who played with Girardi on both teams, posted well wishes on Twitter, calling Girardi “a team-first guy who was loved by all his teammates,” and included photos of the two throughout the years.

In his statement, Girardi thanked the Rangers for giving him a chance to fulfill his childhood dream and the Lightning, with whom he signed as a free agent in 2017, for giving him a chance to continue his career. He also thanked his wife, Pamela, for her support and their two kids, Landon and Shaye, “for being Daddy’s No. 1 fans.”

“The last two years in Tampa Bay have been so much fun for me and my family,” he said. “I will always fondly remember my time here.”

General manager Julien BriseBois issued a statement congratulating Girardi, saying “his sense of humor created a lasting legacy off the ice.”

Cooper joked that he was the beneficiary of Girardi’s personality for two years and now his kid will be. Girardi is coaching Jonny Cooper’s youth team this year.

Diana C. Nearhos is the Lightning beat reporter. Contact her at Follow @dianacnearhos.


  1. Montreal Canadiens left wing Jonathan Drouin (92) takes a shot during the first period of a game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C., on Oct. 3, 2019. GERRY BROOME  |  AP
    Also, Tampa Bay’s practice picks up in intensity after a day off ... and a lackluster showing on Saturday.
  2. The Lightning's alternate "disrupt the night" jerseys will be back for weekend games at Amalie Arena this season. SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    “Disrupt the night” jerseys return for weekend games, starting on Saturday.
  3. Lightning forward Yanni Gourde and the rest of the team have to play with more consistency. The fifth of six consecutive road games takes place Tuesday in Montreal. FRED CHARTRAND  |  AP
    A Stanley Cup favorite beat the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, but a lackluster group fell to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
  4. Ottawa Senators defenceman Mark Borowiecki (74) collides with Tampa Bay Lightning centre Alex Killorn (17) and centre Anthony Cirelli during second period of NHL action in Ottawa, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. FRED CHARTRAND  |  AP
    Diana C. Nearhos’ takeaways: Brayden Point shouldn’t be dropping the gloves. Lightning aren’t rolling four lines. Senators’ arena leaves a lot to be desired.
  5. Ottawa Senators center Vladislav Namestnikov (90) attempts to check Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) during first period of NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday. FRED CHARTRAND  |  AP
    Tampa Bay drafted Namestnikov in the first round eight years ago. He had two goals and an assist for the Senators.
  6. Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson (41) scoops the puck up in front of Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) as Senators defenseman Nikita Zaitsev (22) defends during the first period Saturday. FRED CHARTRAND  |  AP
    Giving up opportunities off the rush has been a recurring issue for Tampa Bay early this season.
  7. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Mathieu Joseph (7) celebrates a goal during the third period against the Florida Panthers last weekend in Sunrise. BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    Slap Shots: Tampa Bay would like to be at home, but as far as road trips go, this one isn’t too bad.
  8. Victor Hedman played his 700th game in Toronto on Thursday. COLE BURSTON  |  AP
    Teammates call Hedman the “nicest guy you’ll ever meet” and the “ultimate friend.”
  9. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77), right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) and center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrate a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period. COLE BURSTON  |  AP
    Tampa Bay takes its shot, over and over again, against the Maple Leafs.
  10. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) celebrates his goal with defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98), defenseman Victor Hedman (77), and center Steven Stamkos (91) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, in Toronto. COLE BURSTON  |  AP
    The trio start Thursday’s game together and it’s safe to say that’s a winning combo: Lightning 7, Maple Leafs 3.