DiPietro Placed On Waivers, Heading Towards Buyout?

The New York Islanders announced today that they have placed goaltender Rick DiPietro on waivers to be sent down to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and has no intent of calling him back up to the NHL this season.

Islanders fans very well may be seeing the beginning to the end of the Rick DiPietro era.

This doesn't exactly come to many as a surprise since DiPietro has clearly not played up to the standards of an NHL caliber goaltender. Despite only performing in the back-up role, Rick has earned a 4.09 GAA and a .855 save percentage with an 0-3-0 record (Photo Credit: 5of7/Flickr).

He also had only played 47 games coming into this season and hasn't held a winning record since 2007 (32-19-0-9). His GAA has not been below a 3.00, nor has his save percentage been above .900 since the 2010 season. And even then he only dressed in 8 games with a 2-5-0-1 record.

Rick's injury history is known to all as the downfall of his career. His inability to stay healthy after signing the 15-year contract offered to him by team owner Charles Wang turned out to be the result of foreshadowed misfortune. A contract that long, for any player (especially a goaltender who had not proven himself beyond one successful season that was only a 30-24-0-5 record) is a double edged sword of benefit vs. trouble.

Ideally, the contract secured a very athletic goaltender with an abundance of potential to the New York Islanders for over a decade. The deal provided DiPietro commitment and job security, something no one would ever turn down. And, in fairness to Rick, the contract could not have been given to anyone that was more loyal to the New York Islanders.

Over the years, Rick has trained harder than probably anyone, and his work ethic only increased after the injuries began to mount. All you ever heard from his teammates was how often he was working out and how he was able to give plenty of advice on dieting and different ways to stay in shape during the season. And it certainly paid off; for any of you who haven't seen Rick off the ice, the guy is ripped from head to toe.

But staying in shape wasn't Rick's problem. As indicated by Rick's stats, his body has not been up to the task of playing at the NHL level each year that he has tried to return to action.

This is something that Rick has taken blame for, and probably the only thing for which he deserves blame. Accepting a 15-year deal was not his fault, but refusing to sit and demanding to play when his body was not 100 percent falls on him.

He's owned up to those decisions and admits that he's learned from his mistakes. The issue is that he learned too late and it may have ultimately cost him his once promising career.

Several knee and hip surgeries will do that to you, especially when your position on the ice requires you to drop down to your knees and make split-stretching saves  while wearing several pounds of equipment (GoalPro/Flickr).

Combine his physical wear-and-tear with the amount of time he had spent in the press-box. Any hockey player will tell you that the more you sit, the rustier you get. Rust added to physical regression in arguably the most game-deciding position on the ice did not bode well for DiPietro or the Islanders.

But ever since Rick's injuries began, each season has been about rehabilitating the 15-year man back to health. The team confided in Rick as their number one goaltender. Rick promised to give every inch of his body to the team that put their faith in him - and he did.

Only dedication and effort can get you so far without results. This contract that provided him job security and the number one goalie spot on the Islanders also provided fans with headaches and bad memories. The team and fan base that he had always been loyal too lost that mutual feeling in return.

DiPietro has been the recipient of countless boo's and labels each time he takes to the ice. For instance, at this year's home opener, DiPietro was booed throughout the entire sold out arena when the team was being announced as they took to the ice. Yet ironically, DP was the only player to skate past each of his teammates at the blue line to give them a fist pound.

Rick has always been a team first guy and has always wanted to win with the organization that drafted him first overall. But arrogance, poor decisions and a life-time contract have made him public enemy number one in Islanders country. And sadly that is all he will likely be remembered for.

It's not over for DiPietro just yet, but the end may be in sight. A demotion to the minors appears to be an early indication that Wang will use one of his two amnesty buyouts on him this coming off-season. Sound Tigers goalie Kevin Poulin has been recalled from Bridgeport to back-up Evgeni Nabokov.

There is still plenty of time left in the season to help Poulin become more permanently adjusted to the NHL game so he can be ready to see more action in 2013-2014. GM Garth Snow and the rest of upper management have been high on Poulin's skill set and seemed very intent on developing him properly to potentially be this team's next number-one goalie.

It is also interesting to note that rumors have surfaced regarding the New York Islanders being for sale. The move to Brooklyn, which puts them in one of the newest sports facilities in the country, definitely makes the team more marketable. Ridding the team of DiPietro's injury history and eight years remaining on his contract will be a major selling point as well.

An even better selling point would be to show off a playoff contending hockey team and not one that has consistently battled in draft lottery's for the number one pick, but that is another story for another day.

Although the sale of the Islanders has only been a rumor, the actions taken by Wang have raised a few eyebrows and are leading to consistent speculation about the direction that this team is finally heading.

As far as DiPietro goes, it is truly a sad story. His shallow career should set an example of how poor decision making and over confidence can lead to some seriously unfortunate results.

There may not be another player who worked as hard and wanted to win with the New York Islanders as Rick DiPietro. But sadly, the best thing to do with him at this point is to keep him away from the team, and hope that the Isles can finally move forward in the crease and continue to look towards the future.

-Rob McGowan

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2 Comments

George Prax's picture

Well it's about damn time, it's almost unbelievably they've gone this long with him in and out of the lineup. You can't run a team with that hanging over your head. If I was a GM I'd much rather have bad goaltending than absent goaltending. Isles would be foolish not to use their amnesty buyout on DP, and even more foolish to risk injury in the meantime. Really intriguing timing though.

Rob McGowan's picture

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Wang may be looking to sell the team, which I am very much in support of happening. Poulin has so much potential and is only 22 years old, and his back-up in Bridgeport, Anders Nilsson, has just as much potential as well. The two of them could be a 1, 1-A tandem in the not so distant future. If Wang is going to cut his losses and try to attract a buyer, he has to make this team look as beneficial and workable as possible. Lose the albatross contract, get a new arena... all steps in the right direction if you're looking to beef up your sale.