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Sad end to Rick DiPietro’s NHL career

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Rick DiPietro, the first goaltender ever taken No. 1 overall, with Dany Heatley (2) and Marian Gaborik (3) on NHL Draft Day 2000. (Jeff McIntosh/AP)

Rick DiPietro, first goalie ever taken No. 1 overall, with Dany Heatley (2) and Marian Gaborik (3) on NHL Draft Day 2000. (Jeff McIntosh/AP)

By Allan Muir

The first time I met Rick DiPietro was at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft in Sunrise, Fla. It was a year after he’d been selected first overall and the Islanders rookie was in town doing press for the league. Smart move. The kid was a natural in front of the camera, handsome, charming, quick-witted. Exactly the image the NHL wanted to present. He was having so much fun with our piece that we gave him the mic and turned him loose to interview a few of the top prospects for us. Comedy gold ensued.

DiPietro that day lived up to his well-established reputation for being cocky, but in an amiable enough sort of way. It was an aggressive strain of confidence that suggested he’d lived a life where things had pretty much always gone his way and he knew they pretty much always would.

It didn’t quite work out that way, of course. There were glorious moments for DiPietro during his 12-year-career–the starting role at the 2006 Olympics, the record 56-save game in 2007–but mostly there was struggle. Struggle to validate his draft position. Struggle to stay healthy. Struggle to live up to the most bloated contract in NHL history: 15 years, $67.5 million, signed in 2006 after a 30-win season.

GALLERY: The painful saga of Rick DiPietro

DiPietro won’t have to live up to it anymore. The Islanders announced today that they’d waived the 31-year-old netminder. Once he clears — there is greater chance that the Rangers will move to Long Island than of another team picking up that tab — he’ll be assigned to Bridgeport the AHL, where he’ll likely sit out the season to avoid being injured and wait to have his contract bought out under the amnesty provision of the new CBA.

But unlike Scott Gomez and Wade Redden, two veteran players who quickly found new NHL homes earlier this season after being bought out from under their own untenable deals, DiPietro’s career is finished.

If health concerns alone didn’t deter potential suitors — he’s played just 47 games since 2008 – then his recent play would do the trick.

DiPietro isn’t even a borderline NHLer at this point. Last season, he posted a 3.73 GAA and .876 save percentage in just eight appearances. In three games this year, he was saddled with three losses, an .855 save percentage and a 4.05 GAA. A 23-save performance in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Ottawa frayed what little leash he had left and his coaches decided, finally, that he couldn’t be trusted with another start.

Done at 31. That’s young by goalie standards, but honestly, it seems amazing that he lasted this long, doesn’t it? He battled. And he lost.

It’s tough to feel bad for a guy who will eventually take home more than $24 million for staying away from the Isles. Still, thinking back on that day in Florida, I have to think the game could have used a little more of what DiPietro had before it all went away.

  • Published On Feb 22, 2013
  • 4 comments
    inetadv
    inetadv

    The game could have used a little more of what - the totally unearned cocky, brash, arrogance that he brought from day1? The oversized ego and unwarranted entitlement mentality that comes with always having things go your way? He seemed like a punk -- and unlike a future fellow cocky, arrogant, egotistical punk who rubbed people the wrong way,, Crosby, he couldn't live up to his billing, draft status or contract and never led his team(s) anywhere.

     

    The incredible part is that Snow is STILL GM in LI, and that 2 separate GM's bit the big one on this kid - one, Milbury, in drafting him #1 ahead of potential, and subsequently proven, snipers Heatley and Gaborik, and then Snow in burying the franchise under the most ridiculous of contracts after he finally had one good season!

     

    And now 'Ricky' gets to fade into obscurity and wait for a cool $24M to hit his bank account in exchange for ... going away. Now THAT'S a job ALL of us would love to find! (I think sympathy for the 'defeated warrior' is gonna be a pretty tough sell here!)

    Man2
    Man2

    He's a millionaire while American and Canada and the whole world is struggling with the Great Recession.  There is no need whatsoever to feel sad for DiPietro like this clueless writer mentions.  So he flamed out, who cares? There are people losing their life earnings daily.  Get real and write a real story.

    johnc596
    johnc596

    I don't think you could fairly call that the "most bloated contract in NHL history".  That distinction belongs to the (not-so-) Great 8.