The New York Islanders placed struggling goaltender Rick DiPietro on waivers today in order to assign him to Bridgeport of the AHL.
Thus far this season, DP is 0-3-0 with a 4.10 GAA and a save percentage of just .855. When playing at home, he has heard boos from Isles fans frustrated by his poor play and controversial contract.
Ah, yes, the contract. In September of 2006, DiPietro signed a 15-year contract with the Islanders worth a total of $67.5 million. Unfortunately for Rick and the Isles, injuries have derailed his career, limiting the former first overall pick in the 2000 draft to just 47 total games played (in the NHL) since 2008.
Now 31, DiPietro still has eight years left on that deal which has become a symbol to Islanders fans about everything that is wrong with the franchise these days. It’s ironic because as questionable as that contract offer may have been, it’s unfair to fault DiPietro for taking it and giving himself and his family lifetime financial security.
You have to feel for DiPietro. Nobody has worked harder than he has to rehab from injury after injury that kept him out of the lineup. While Rick may have had a reputation as a cocky young kid when he first started, injuries and experience have taught him to value playing in the NHL and made him appreciate his time on the ice. He is dedicated to the Islanders franchise even after all the difficult times he has faced in recent years.
After his most recent start at the Nassau Coliseum which came against the Hurricanes on February 11, DP commented on his situation. “It’s a joy to be out there playing,” he said after another disappointing effort. “Sitting around watching these guys from the rafters the last couple of years is tough. There’s nothing you can do up there, you feel helpless. It’s great to compete and this is a great group of guys and that makes it that much better.”
Now, DiPietro, the man who the Islanders traded Roberto Luongo in order to keep, will have to play his way back into shape. Whether he is able to do that or not remains to be seen. This may be a speed bump for DP or it may be the beginning of the end of a once promising career.
Whichever it is, it is safe to say DiPietro will give maximum effort to get himself ready to play in the NHL again. Fans should give him credit for at least that much.
The Islanders recalled goalie Kevin Poulin from Bridgeport to serve as backup to Evgeni Nabokov.
After a road game Saturday night in Buffalo, the Isles return to the Nassau Coliseum Sunday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes. Islanders tickets to this and other games are available.