After being bought out by the Rangers, Girardi wants to show he can still ‘play and contribute’

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Dan Girardi has only suited up for one NHL team during his career, but that’s going to change next fall when he plays for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The veteran blue liner was bought out by the New York Rangers this offseason, and he’s looking to show the league he can still be a valuable contributor.

“Obviously the ending in New York isn’t what I wanted, but I think this is a good opportunity for me to come here and help the younger guys on the back end,” said Girardi.

“Obviously being bought out makes me more hungry to show that I can still play and contribute.”

Girardi was once a serviceable shutdown defenseman, but injuries and the speed of the game have caught up to him over the last little while.

Near the end of his tenure with the Rangers, it had become increasingly clear that he wasn’t capable of playing the big minutes he had been playing in previous years.

That didn’t stop the Lightning from shelling out $6 million over two years to bring him into the fold.

The 33-year-old has seen his ice time decrease in each of the last five seasons. He played over 26 minutes per game in 2011-12, and that number has gone down to 25:24, 23:07, 22:41, 20:19 and 19:06. Sheltering him with a mobile defense partner on the third pairing will likely be the best fit for him at this stage of his career.

“I feel 100% great, I feel hungrier than I’ve been any other year,” added Girardi. “I feel like you’ve been in one place for so long that you get on cruise control and that might not be good for your career. What happened to me is really going to jump-start it. I’ve been working out at the gym really hard, and I’m going to start skating here very shortly. This is the most excited I’ve been for a year in a really long time. ”

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Girardi admits shock of Rangers buyout “hit me pretty hard”