In a move that wasn’t as crazy as it should have been, the Rangers decided to buy out Dan Girardi’s contract. In the weeks leading up to this, many mused that the Rangers had no chance to compete next year if they didn’t get rid of Girardi or Staal (or both). It would have been better if they could have pulled the plug on Staal instead, but he has more contract left and it would have been more expensive. Both guys were under-performing.
Girardi was the primary heart & soul guy on the team; he was an assistant captain and blocked like a million shots. He fought through all types of pain to stay in the game for the Rangers. Unfortunately, the best years of Girardi came before I was really into the Rangers, so I never grew the same appreciation for the years prior to 2014, when he was consistently a top-notch defensive D-man. I know enough history to understand that his contributions were endless over the span of time he spent with the Blueshirts, particular the first several years after he was first called up.
But things have been changing over the last few years, and it was obvious that the Rangers weren’t getting top-2 production from Girardi. Staal has been consistently worst, but as I said before, he’s got too much contract left right now. Girardi wasn’t the only overpaid Ranger – not by a long shot – but he was pretty much the most beat-down guy, considering the physical courage he showed on the ice over 11 years. He will be a valued contributor on his next team, where maybe he can focus on providing depth and leadership, rather than struggling to keep up while playing tons of top-line minutes.
This bring us to the issue of Girardi playing top minutes. Buyouts happen, but do they happen to guys who are playing #2 minutes on a regular basis until the very end? How does Alain Vigneault look having his #2 D-man bought out? Maybe he didn’t have enough options. Maybe AV is just bad at giving the right guys the right minutes. That’s probably it, when you also consider the extreme stupidity he showed with Staal, who kept finding himself on the ice in critical situations this year.
Many fans said that this move would be addition by subtraction- basically, the Rangers are better off without Girardi even if they don’t trade him for anything. Fans aren’t experts, but it seems pretty telling that a beloved figure like Girardi would end up with people calling for his buyout. The Rangers gave him and Staal these huge contracts, and sealed their fate as prospective disappointments. I think they’ve done the same with Stepan. If these guys had reasonable deals for their offerings, all this drama wouldn’t be necessary. It’s a good thing Glen Sather is no longer the General Manager, but we’re still going to be feeling the pain from his decisions for a while.
Stats from NHL