OTTAWA, ON – APRIL 27: Dan Girardi #5 of the New York Rangers shoots the puck against the Ottawa Senators in Game One of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on April 27, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

It’s been a pretty busy and emotional summer for Dan Girardi. The defenseman had his contract bought out in June by the New York Rangers which allowed him to sign a new contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning as an unrestricted free agent. When discussing the big changes this summer, Girardi said that he understands that it’s just part of the game, but it still hit him pretty hard.

Via the Sporting News, Girardi also mentioned that he was pretty surprised when he heard the news about the Rangers buying him out.

“I gotta say I was surprised. Obviously, it’s a [salary] cap era and my contract did not help, but at the end of the day, after a decent year and good playoffs and the (end-of-season) meetings, I just started working out, preparing for next season. When I first heard the news it was disappointing and it hit me pretty hard, but that’s part of the game these days.”

Girardi believes he wasn’t bad last year, but his age (he’s currently 33), the Rangers’ desire to get younger and their salary cap crunch led to the decision to buy out the remainder of his contract. He’ll receive $1,111,111 each year through 2022-23 after playing with the Rangers for the past 11 seasons.

It’s easy for hockey fans to see a contract bought out and have no sympathy for the player involved as they’re still collecting a nice check. That point aside, from a mental and emotional side of things, the Rangers deciding to pay Girardi – a veteran of the organization – to not skate for them has to be a blow to the ol’ self-esteem.

Girardi seemed particularly surprised by his old team’s decision, but he’ll have plenty of opportunities to prove them wrong when he suits up with the Lightning in 2017-18.

About David Rogers

Editor for The Comeback and Contributing Editor for Awful Announcing. Lover of hockey, soccer and all things pop culture.