For any National Hockey League player to reach the 500 games-played milestone is a big deal. But for an undrafted free agent to reach that mark, all with one team, is extremely impressive.
On Thursday night at Madison Square Garden that is exactly what defenseman Dan Girardi achieved, playing in his 500th NHL game, every single one of them with a Rangers team that signed him out of Guelph on July 1, 2006.
"It's pretty special to play 500 games for an Original Six franchise, especially here in New York City at Madison Square Garden," Girardi told BlueshirtsUnited.com following the Rangers 2-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres Thursday night. "I am glad to get the win. It was a fun night, for sure."
Girardi made his NHL debut after being called up from the Hartford Wolf Pack on January 27, 2007 and finished the 2006-07 season by appearing in 34 games. He has never appeared in fewer than 80 games in any full NHL season since; and last year he played in 46 of the 48 games of a lockout-shortened season. This year Girardi has played in all 12 games.
On Thursday night Girardi was credited with four hits and two shots on goal. His good friend and fellow Rangers defenseman Marc Staal also achieved an NHL milestone by appearing in his 400th career game. Staal was credited with two hits and one shot on goal.