Sympathy for Rick DiPietro
I’ve felt sympathy for Rick DiPietro for a while now. Forget the fact he takes home a healthy $5m pay check every season, all any player wants to do is play. Whether earn £50 or $5m, they want to play. But DiPietro hasn’t been able to do that for some time. The guy has had perhaps the worst luck in professional sports.
Taken 1st overall in 2000, the 31-year old once showed great promise and was expected to be the Islanders #1 for years to come.
Instead a series of injuries that went from ‘run of the mill’ to ‘injury prone’. Then to comedic. Then it got kinda beyond a joke, before feelings genuinely turned in to ‘I feel bad for the guy’.
Knees, hips, groins – DiPietro spent time sidelined with various ailments concerning most of his lower body. It’s perhaps small wonder he didn’t really top it off by taking one full in the nuts. But then perhaps the second worst possible thing happened to him when he had his face smashed by Pens goalie Brent Johnson in an ill advised scrap.
DiPietro hasn’t played more than 26 games in a single year since 2007/08. And even then the only time he got in to double figures was that 26 games ‘stint’ he played in 2010/11 before the aforementioned tussle with Johnson.
The toll the former Team USA’s stoppers bad luck has taken on his career is perhaps most obvious when looking at the man himself – his face seemingly etched with the disappointment of a promising career cut down by misfortune of an epic scale. His once close cropped hair now long and almost bedraggled and his face somehow gaunt. I’ve heard it said that he has been ‘humbled’ by it all, after just over a decade trying to make it in the NHL this once cocky kid with a bright future is now a veteran just trying to stay healthy and truly realise his dream.
The biggest decision about DiPietro’s career now seems to lie with the Islanders. His 0-3-0 record this year seems to have left Islanders GM Garth Snow with seldom choice but to consider the franchise future between the pipes.
Maybe the club simply believe he needs a stint in the AHL to gain some confidence and get his game back together? Or is this the pre-cursor to buying him out and drawing a line under things?
(Sub note – and if they buy him out, is it a compliance buy out? Or a ‘regular’ buy out to keep a partial cap hit to aid them getting to the floor?)
With Evgeni Nabokov’s play being rather sporadic, it is tough to see the franchise moving forward with two 30+ goalies when they have a franchise whose hopes ride largely on the shoulders of 22-year old John Tavares, and prospects like Griffin Reinhardt and Ryan Strome. The Isles simply can’t afford to carry two ageing netminders – particularly when DiPietro has looked like a shadow of his former self when he has played. The club isn’t a million mile from being competitive in my eyes, but they need to improve in key areas; such as between the pipes.
And so here we are, with Rick DiPietro almost certainly heading for Bridgeport in the AHL and the predictable jokes about injuring himself tripping over the waiver wire flooding the internet.