After seeing teammate and visor-less fellow defenseman Marc Staal suffer a serious eye injury last season when he was hit by a deflected slap shot, Girardi -- the NHL leader in blocked shots last season -- said he reconsidered his own stance. He was wearing a visor Monday when he took part in an unofficial pre-training camp workout at the MSG Training Center in Greenburgh, N.Y.
"With what happened to Marc, I just thought it was a good time for me to put it on," Girardi told the Rangers' website following the workout, which was attended by teammates including Henrik Lundqvist, Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, John Moore and Anton Stralman.
"An injury like Marc's does affect everything outside of the game as well," Girardi continued. "You come here and play, but when you go home there's your family life, and you don't want an injury like that to come home with you. I saw what Marc went through last year and it was real tough, being his friend and teammate, and that definitely helped the decision I made."
Girardi wore a visor in junior hockey and in his early days with the Rangers, but hasn't done so for the past few years -- a stretch in which he's become one of the NHL's busiest hitters and shot-blockers. Getting used to wearing one again will take a little time.
"It's a little tough to adjust to; it fogs up a bit, so I have to get used to all of that, but I think it's a good thing for me to do," Girardi said. "I think it's an individual decision, and by no means do I think visors should be mandatory at all -- but if you want to wear one, then wear one. Especially after seeing what happened to Marc last year, that was not a pretty injury, I made my decision."
Girardi was at the Rangers' practice facility because he wasn't invited to Team Canada's pre-Olympic camp this week -- though he joked that it might have been for the best because his wife, Pamela, gave birth to the couple's second child, a daughter named Shaye, on Saturday. Still, he said the snub will provide some early-season motivation.
"I thought there was a chance I could go, and I am definitely not mad or holding anything against Team Canada, I just thought the last couple of years I had some good years to give myself the chance to at least go up to the camp," Girardi said. "But that's fine with me, [it gives me] more time with the family, and it gives me a little more motivation to help [the Rangers] the best I can the first half and see what happens."
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