DiPietro Leaves AHL Checkers; Career Over?
Former New York Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro was released from his professional try out contract with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers today, after going 0-4-0 since joining the team on October 26th.
DiPietro is believed to have asked for the release himself, with Checkers coach Jeff Daniels telling the clubs website “He just didn’t think it was going to go anywhere”.
The question now is whether DiPietro is going to go anywhere at all; he may just be done.
I’ve written about the sympathy I have for Rick DiPietro before. Taken 1st overall in 2000, he was once a bona fide NHL starter set to back stop the Islanders for years to come.
Various injuries derailed his career however, and the aftermath of those injuries may simply mean he is no longer able to play at an ‘elite level’ again.
Prior to 2008, DiPietro was pretty durable. He played more than 60 games for three straight seasons from 2005/06 to 2007/08 (and 50 games in 2003/04, with the 04/05 season lost to a lock out). He had the odd niggle, nothing unusual for an NHL player or goaltender though, and he showed enough talent to persuade the Islanders to sign him to that now infamous 15-year contract.
But then hip surgery in 2008 triggered a series of injuries which took DiPietro from unfortunate to laughing stock to tragic story, culminating in the Islanders buying him out this summer.
He missed the last 9 games of the 2007/08 season due to that hip operation, he then missed 27 games at the start of the following season after knee surgery, 3 games due to a groin injury and then the final 41 games of the season as his right knee swelled.
The Winthrop native had knee surgery again in September 2009, keeping him sidelined for 33 games. He then went down again just a month later with a left knee injury, costing him the final 22 games of the regular season.
Minor groin and knee ailments disrupted his 2010/11 season, before his ill advised clash with Brent Johnson put him on the shelf for a further 20 games and caused him to miss the start of the next campaign due to concussion before a groin injury finished his season for good; robbing him of a further 58 games.
He played one game for German second tier side SC Riessersee during the last lock out, and then three games for the Islanders during last years shortened campaign before being sent down to Bridgeport in February.
The sheer number and severity of those lower body injuries should give you some idea of the struggle DiPietro has faced in trying to get back to the NHL.
In a position that puts such stresses on hips, knees and groins, you need to be 100% – either naturally or via surgical repair (hello Mike Richter!). DiPietro, despite numerous surgeries, has been neither of these things for half a decade; and probably never will be again.
It is sad to think one of the most talked about prospects of the Noughties should drift off in to the night like this. He’ll be remember more for that mega deal he signed on Long Island than the fact he was once an elite NHL netminder.
But the final buzzer does seem to have sounded on Rick DiPietro’s career.
Hopefully retirement will treat him a little better.