John Tortorella and his salty tongue were absolutely correct the other night: the NHL is “ass-backwards”, as he put it, in regards to their All-Star selections. Year after year, there is something just not right with who makes the final teams (remember Mike Komisarek from a few seasons ago?). This has never before been more apparent than in the last few weeks, when the head coach of the New York Rangers started saying repeatedly how defenseman Dan Girardi was severely underrated. Then, a few days ago, when the actual ballots were released, and Girardi was left off, Tortorella addressed the situation in both a post-game press conference and the next day during practice. The overall feeling: you must have a “pedigree” to get any kind of recognition from the National Hockey League. That means being drafted high with a ton of hype, and of course, having the potential to score fifty goals.
This is a league that craves offense, which is apparently all anyone ever cares about. There is no glory in the hard workers, who grind it out and block shots, and do the little things that lead to victory. Dan Girardi has always been a solid defenseman, but he has really shone through with the absence of Marc Staal, and being forced to play more minutes than he would have normally. It seems, every other shift, Girardi is out there doing his thing, playing nearly flawless defense. He just refuses to make mistakes, nor does he cave in under the pressure of averaging 27 minutes and 46 seconds per game, which leads the league for any position. His total time on ice for the season, at nearly 417 minutes, is sixth overall, but only because those in the top five have played more games than him.
Girardi has also shown some offense, with three goals and five assists in 15 games this year. He is no Brian Leetch, but he is on pace for the best offensive season of his career, which would surpass his high of 31 points from last season. However, with the way he has played on defense, should he keep it up, the Rangers would be content even if he did not register one more point for the entire season.
The bottom line here is, does leading your team on defense every night make you any less important than the “star” that scores all the goals? No, because one without the other is useless. The NHL All-Star Game has been a joke forever, but there is a chance to rectify the situation if players like Dan Girardi find their way into the game. The selection process of fan voting almost guarantees it to be a popularity contest, but it could also help with writing him in this season. Marc Staal, who has not played a single game yet (and might not due to injury) is on the ballot. How ridiculous is that? Girardi most certainly deserves it, and we fans have a chance to make sure he gets in. To all Rangers’ fans, help do your part: write in Dan Girardi for the 2012 NHL All-Star Game!
This is a Facebook Group that is dedicated to the same sentiment. I did not create it, but there are already more than 150 people registered, and getting more members will not hurt.