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Girardi retires after 13 seasons in NHL

Shot-blocking defenseman played 927 games with Rangers, Lightning @NHLdotcom

Dan Girardi announced his retirement from the NHL on Friday after 13 seasons.

The 35-year-old defenseman had 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in 62 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season and no points in four Stanley Cup Playoff games. The Lightning opted not to re-sign Girardi after last season, and he became an unrestricted free agent July 1.

The New York Rangers signed Girardi as an undrafted free agent July 1, 2006. He played 11 seasons for New York before signing with Tampa Bay as a free agent July 1, 2017.

The native of Welland, Ontario, played in 927 NHL games and had 264 points (56 goals, 208 assists). He had 36 points (eight goals, 28 assists) in 143 NHL playoff games.

"I would like to thank all my coaches, family, friends and teammates for supporting me throughout my entire hockey career," Girardi said. "I want to thank the New York Rangers for giving me a chance to fulfill my childhood dream of playing in the NHL. Throughout those 11 incredible years I have made so many friends on and off the ice. I bled Ranger blue and gave it my all for my team, the city and the Garden faithful. I also want to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning for helping me continue my career by giving me a chance to play for such an amazing organization, city and fan base.

"I gave my all every single night and left it all out on the ice. Now it's time for the next chapter of my life to begin and I couldn't be happier ... and so is my body."

Tweet from @NYRangers: G,Thank you for 11 years of giving us your all.Thank you for being one of us. #NYR

Girardi played in the 2012 NHL All-Star Game, his team made the postseason in 12 of his 13 seasons, and he helped the Rangers advance to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, which they lost in five games to the Los Angeles Kings.

"We all love to play the game and have done it our whole lives," New York defenseman Marc Staal said, "and he's a competitive and passionate guy that loved coming to the rink. I was feeling for him in that way because you're going to miss that, but I was happy for him and respect that he had an incredible career. He worked extremely hard for everything he got. He earned everything he got in the game. I was happy and proud to be able to play with him for as long as I did in a Ranger uniform. That's something that will have for the rest of our lives. He was an incredible teammate."

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said, "He's one of my all-time favorite teammates the way he played the game. ... We had so much success together. I think we helped each other a lot the way I competed and the way he competed. I always knew what to get from him for so many years. I admired how he played. He was a huge part of this team's success over so many years. Great career. I'm really happy for him. He played a lot of good years. I just want to wish him the best."

Since the start of the 2005-06 season, Girardi's 1,954 blocked shots are the most of any player in the NHL.

"On behalf of the entire Rangers organization, I want to congratulate Dan on an outstanding NHL career," New York senior adviser and alternate governor Glen Sather said. "Dan was the ultimate warrior. From the moment he joined the Rangers, he gave his heart and soul to his teammates, the organization, and the fans. Dan's relentless effort and dedication to the Rangers was an inspiration to everyone. The accomplishments we achieved during Dan's tenure with the Rangers -- which included two division championships, a Presidents' Trophy, and a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2014 -- would not have been possible without his immeasurable contributions."

Girardi led the Lightning in blocked shots (263) during his two seasons with Tampa Bay and was first among Lightning defensemen in hits (284).

"On behalf of the Lightning players, coaches and the entire staff I'd like to congratulate Dan on a wonderful career," Tampa Bay general manager Julien BriseBois said. "Dan's commitment to the game and his willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of his team earned him the respect of teammates and fans alike during 13 seasons in the NHL, while his personality and sense of humor created a lasting legacy off the ice."

Tweet from @TBLightning: You were an absolute warrior on the ice and one of the best people in the game off of it, G.You will always have fans and a home in Tampa. Congrats on an incredible career! ������📝: senior writer Dan Rosen contributed to this report

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