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POSTED ON Sunday, 01.29.2012 / 8:51 PM

By Dan Girardi -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Dan Girardi's 2012 Tim Hortons All-Star blog

Girardi: 'It was a lot of fun'

As part of All-Access All Things All-Star coverage on NHL.com this weekend in Ottawa, New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi will be blogging his thoughts and experiences. Here's his final entry about participating in his first All-Star Game:

For a second there, I thought I had a goal in an All-Star Game.

I took a pass from Milan Michalek and let a shot go. I knew it hit something on the way to the net, but I wasn't sure at first. But when Jason Spezza came over to me to celebrate and had a sheepish, apologetic look on his face, I knew it wasn't going to be my goal. I was just laughing about it with him. It would've been cool to get a goal, but to pick a point in an All-Star Game is pretty cool too.

To be in an All-Star Game as a defensive defenseman, it was unbelievable. Going from the draft to a really busy media day to skills yesterday, and the game today, it was a lot of fun. The game was the best part of the weekend. Playing with all these guys, that was the highlight. Having my family here to see me play, that was special too.

I only got about 3 minutes of ice time during the second period. Torts said he wasn't going to play me if he was my coach, but I think it was more about the fact some guys were taking some really long shifts. I didn't care. I just went out there, played my shift, and I was happy. When my turn came up again, I just wanted to do my best. We weren't worried about getting ice time or anything like that. It was complete and total fun.

I have to rush out really quick tonight, because the family and I are flying home to New York. My wife and son are coming back with some other family who are staying over with us. I had a great time this weekend.
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POSTED ON Sunday, 01.29.2012 / 12:06 AM

By Dan Girardi -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Dan Girardi's 2012 Tim Hortons All-Star blog

Girardi savors All-Star experience on and off ice

Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi writes that the best part of the skills competition for him was seeing his son wave at him:

The best part of my skills competition experience wasn't anything that happened on the ice.

I was sitting on the bench and looked into the crowd and saw my wife and my 1-year-old son Landon. When I saw him, he was standing on his chair and waving right at me. That's all good stuff there. That's what it's all about. When I saw him waving at me, it made me feel really good.

The stuff on the ice was pretty good too. I thought it was a great experience. I didn't have to do too much except for a couple of passes to Daniel Sedin and Jason Spezza during the accuracy event. At the same time, just being out there with all the guys and watching these superstars make some pretty sweet moves was something special. To be there on the ice and watch Zdeno Chara hit 108.8 mph -- that's just cool to be a part of.

Just being in the locker room and meeting other guys was cool too. I talked to the Sedins for a bit, just some chit-chat. I sat next to Shea Weber and I was just trying to talk to him before the skills, asking him if he could beat Chara this time. Just because Shea was so close to me I talked to him a lot more. I sat next to Scott Hartnell in the locker room. That was a lot different. We got along fine. No stall violations, everything was OK. It was all fun. We have a big rivalry, but once we get here, it all goes out the window. We're just enjoying the weekend, but when it's over, we'll be right back at it.

But I guess it was good I was passing to Spezza and Sedin and not Hartnell. No passing to true enemies.

The weather here hasn't been great the past two days, but we went up to the Parliament buildings to take pictures today. We went to the Rideau Canal too. It was all closed except for one spot on the under the bridge -- Landon skated on there for a little bit. Later, someone told us about a rink at City Hall so we went there to do some skating, but there was a private function going on so we couldn't skate there. We just went across the canal and looked at all the ice sculptures. It was pretty cold out there, but we wanted to get that done.

For tomorrow's game, I have no idea who I'm playing with right now. I'm sure whoever it is, he'll be the one that jumps up into the play and I'll be the safety valve just like usual. Hank [Henrik Lundqvist] was talking to me before and told me 'Spezza said a guy like me who stays at home and blocks shots is invaluable to your team.' I guess it's nice having a guy who's just going to sit back there and take the 3-on-1s.

It's going to be interesting to see how it goes. Who knows. I may get up there on the rush and try to pop one home.
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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.26.2012 / 10:40 PM

By Dan Girardi -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Dan Girardi's 2012 Tim Hortons All-Star blog

All-Star Draft full of highs and lows

As part of All-Access All Things All-Star coverage on NHL.com this weekend in Ottawa, New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi will be blogging his thoughts and experiences. Here's his first entry about arriving in town and fretting a bit about the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft:

My first All-Star experience is sure to be a fun one, but it started off with a bit of a hitch. When I got to the hotel with the family, our room wasn't ready yet. We had to wait in the lobby for about 45 minutes, which gave my son, Landon, time to run around for a bit.

Going into the All-Star Draft, I have to admit, I was pretty nervous. I knew I couldn't go last because defensemen have to go before the 15th round, but I was surprised to get called so early. I wasn't expecting to walk out of the green room before Marian Gaborik. On the car ride over, I was kind of nudging Henrik Lundqvist in an effort to get him to take me a bit early. I told him I've blocked a lot of shots for him over the years so it would be nice for him to not leave me hanging for a long time.

It was a really cool experience, the draft. I think it's great for the fans and I didn't mind having to sweat out when I'd be taken. For me, as someone who wasn't taken in the NHL Draft, it was cool to hear my named called and go up on stage. I was joking with TSN's James Duthie and shaking his hand as if he was the commissioner.

There wasn't much time today to see the city, but that's our plan tomorrow. I'm going to see the sights with the family, check out Parliament. It should be fun.

The skills competition is going to be exciting, although I don't know what the heck I'm going to do in it. As long as it doesn't involve skating or any type of skill. I'm hoping to just be in the hardest shot or a guy who does the passing during the skills competition. If I have to race Gabby or Carl Hagelin, they'll need to start at the red line and I'll need to be at the faceoff circle just to have a chance.

I'll be blogging for NHL.com all week. I'll report back tomorrow about my experiences from touring the city of Ottawa and getting ready for skills competition and the game. Thanks for reading!
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It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery