On Jan. 27, 2007, Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi took the ice for his first NHL game at Philadelphia. The Blueshirts beat the Flyers 2-1 that night, and it was impossible not to notice the poise that Girardi, then 22, displayed throughout the game. Although most Rangers call-ups from the Hartford Wolf Pack found themselves shuttling back and forth between the AHL and the NHL, Girardi was instantly in the NHL to stay.
More than 200 NHL regular-season games later, Girardi, 25, is a fixture on defense for the Blueshirts, now playing in his third full season. His success is a credit first to himself and second to the Rangers scouts who showed faith in him more than four years ago, when no other NHL team was interested in the undrafted free agent from Welland, Ontario. Indeed, Girardi truly beat the odds in reaching the NHL, particularly after slipping through two NHL Entry Drafts.