Have We Seen The Last Of Rick DiPietro?
The NHL's current collective bargaining agreement might look a bit different heading into the 2013 season. After the lockout in 2005, the NHL implemented a salary cap after forfeiting an entire season - it appears that both the players and the owners have learned from their past foolish mistakes and won't let that happen again, but there are matters that might not be settled so easily. (xjowell/Flickr)
One of them is an amnesty clause. Basically, an amnesty clause would allow any team to eliminate a bad player contract under certain conditions. The NBA elected to put this clause into their CBA back in 2005, but it was slightly different than the plain definition. If an organization chose to use the amnesty clause, the player still received a paycheck that counted against the cap, but the team did not have to pay a luxury tax on the waived salary.
Whether or not the NHL and its players will be able to come to terms on something similar, or entirely different, will remain to be seen until the talks have officially began.
But what if the amnesty clause allows players to have only half their salaries count against the cap? Or allows players to no longer need to be dressed or count as part of the 23-man roster?
Would the Islanders use the amnesty clause on Rick DiPietro?
If GM Garth Snow and owner Charles Wang went this route, the Hockey gods would have a lot of free time on their hands since they would no longer be listening to the prayers of many Isles fans begging for him to no longer be part of the team. Despite his hard work and determination, DP has only played 47 games in the past four years and has had his season shut down three out of those four times. Not only has this prevented him from getting the playing time of a number one goalie, it has also allowed his stats to diminish year after year. Sadly, the less Ricky plays, the rustier he gets and the worse it gets for the New York Islanders.
The organization has been a class act all the way, remaining loyal to their former number one pick and supporting his road to recovery. A buyout has never been discussed and financially it shouldn't even be a thought. The team would be paying half of Rick's annual salary for the next 18 years.
Although the media continues to plague DiPietro with the never ending questions of, "is this your last attempt?" or "will you retire?" or "can your body still handle playing the NHL game?", he always responds as if he has only sat out a few days. He claims he knows he can play and that he won't stop trying until it is either physically impossible or he retires after a long, successful career. (hockey32090/Flickr)
Whether either of those scenarios happen doesn't matter; the New York Islanders will never be able to achieve success if each season is about Rick DiPietro's return to glory. And they know that, too. Why else do you think they have drafted three top rated goalie prospects within a year of each other?
Evgeni Nabokov's failure to report to camp after being picked up off waivers in 2011 turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The Islanders wound up having a number one goalie for all 2012 and even got the guy to come back for another year. It was the first time in a long time that there was stability between the pipes. Plus with Kevin Poulin on the rise, stability looks to finally have found it's mark in the Isles plans.
But DiPietro is still here, looming with the hopes of being the Islanders number one goaltender. That's what he signed on for; that's what he has worked for and believes he still deserves.
But there is an underlying factor here. Regardless of whether or not DiPietro plays, his $4.5 million dollar pay check helps keep the Isles at the cap floor each year. With free agency continuing to frown upon Long Island year after year, his paycheck has become a financial asset.
Depending on the terms on this potential amnesty clause, the New York Islanders ironically might not be able to afford losing his contract. That is unless they set up a plan of finding a new way to come up with enough money that would reach the cap floor. $4.5 million isn't an amount of money that should be too difficult to replace, especially if Snow really wants to retain some key members of his core. Regardless of whatever choice the Isles make should there be such a significant change to the CBA, the result will have plenty of holes to fill.
So, if there is an amnesty clause put into the new CBA...could that mean we have seen the last of Rick DiPietro?