Being bought out by a team is, depending upon how you look at it, the most insulting thing that can happen to a player. With the wrong outlook, someone might linger on: “My former team is paying me not to play for them.”
If you want to cut deeper, consider how much it might hurt for a player to get bought out after at least a decade of service.
That’s the situation Dan Girardi confronted when his lengthy stay with the New York Rangers ended in a buyout, though he’s right in realizing that the move is as much a commentary on his contract as it is is based on his on-ice play.
Still, even if he’s being pretty mature about it, he admitted to the Sporting News’ Jim Cerny that he didn’t see it coming.
“I gotta say I was surprised,” Girardi said. “Obviously, it’s a [salary] cap era and my contract did not help, but at the end of the day, after a decent year and good playoffs and the (end-of-season) meetings, I just started working out, preparing for next season. When I first heard the news it was disappointing and it hit me pretty hard, but that’s part of the game these days.”
Again, Girardi claimed that he holds no “hard feelings” toward the Rangers, even as teammates such as Henrik Lundqvist struggle with the move.
At least Girardi lands on his feet with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who handed him a generous two-year, $6 million contract and who employ fellow former Rangers stalwart Ryan Callahan.
Girardi will also receive $1,111,111 from the Rangers for the next six years, a strange reminder of how his time ended with the team.
As much as Girardi says the right things about the Rangers, you can bet that he looks forward to playing them in 2017-18. The Lightning first host the Rangers on Nov. 2 and then March 8, while his homecoming to Madison Square Garden isn’t slated until March 30.
It could be an emotional time, especially if the two teams are in the thick of playoff races.