As a life-long forward, my half-serious take on defensemen is I don’t notice them unless A) they make a sharp offensive play; or B) they make an egregious mistake. With that in mind, I’ve seen A LOT of Marek Malik (a.k.a. “my boy Malik”:http://rangers.lohudblogs.com/2007/03/01/malik-doesnt-get-the-boos-and-neither-do-i/) this year.
But by that measure, I shouldn’t “notice Dan Girardi”:http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070327/SPORTS01/703270392/1034/SPORTS as much as I do. In 28 NHL games, Girardi’s play has been defined more by subtlety, so smart and so composed that he can make the right play without drawing attention to himself. But as part of a defensive corps that is still prone to the occasional spectacular gaffe, Girardi’s consistency has already made him plenty unique.
By now, many of you know Girardi’s unusual history. He was passed over twice in the NHL draft, and even when he was brought into training camp by the Rangers last season, he first had to start the season in Charlotte (of course, Hugh Jessiman has spent time in Charlotte as well the past few years. The difference is Jessiman was a first round draft pick). But after working his way up to Hartford and then eventually New York, he’s continued to win over fans—both outside the Rangers dressing room, and inside it as well.
“It’s good motivation for any young player,” Jaromir Jagr said. “Nobody counted on this. We had eight defenseman before the season, and he probably wasn’t in the top 12. And look at him now. I think he’s got a good attitude – no highs, no lows. If he makes a mistake, so what? He figures out a way the next time. And he doesn’t make many mistakes.”