Rick DiPietro is the owner of the largest contract ever awarded to a single player in NHL history, and to a goalie no-less. An immense 15 year contract he can call his own.
The first two years of that contract he played up to par with what was expected. Although playing no more then 63 games in either season, he kept his team competitive night in and night out and established himself as one of the better goalies of the eastern conference.
Then the "lower body" injuries happened.
DiPietro injured his already weakened knee in training camp causing him to miss the first few weeks of last season. He then came back, played three games and re-injured himself causing him to miss 27 games after having surgery.
What happened next is where the ultra long term injury came in to place. He returned for one game on December 26, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1. All was well, he had returned and put up a stellar performance.
Unfortunately for the Islanders, he had injured himself yet again during that game, both his knee and his groin. A few weeks later he underwent a second surgery on his knee causing him to miss the remainder of the season, a total of 41 games more.
The Islanders were now left without a goaltender, leaving the duties up to Joey McDonald (who did play well), Yann Danis, and Peter Mannino.
When the off-season came the Islanders went out and signed one of the top free agent goaltenders out there, the veteran Dwayne Roloson to a 2 year/$5 million deal. The signing was called "insurance" in case DiPietro happened to get injured again.
Looking back on it, it may be more then insurance.
Later that night I got a text message from a friend saying that DiPietro was going to retire. It turned out it was a joke, most likely inspired by an alcoholic beverage...or eight or ten.
Even though it was a joke and did not have an ounce of credence, it got me to thinking about their goaltending situation. General Manager Garth Snow still maintains that DiPietro will begin skating in August.
Then came this evening's signing.
Former Flyers number one goalie Martin Biron has inked a 1 year/$1.4 million deal with the Islanders. Two number one goalies now; well, three if you count DiPietro.
It was a steal of a signing at a bargain basement amount of money. But why? Why sign Roloson and Biron if you are sure that DiPietro will be healthy?
Islanders top brass is still maintaining their story, and perhaps they are right, but I want to look at this a little deeper.
You have a potential franchise caliber goalie who you foolishly signed to a gastronomical 15 year contract only to realize that Dipietro may never play a full season due to chronic healthy issues. You also just went out and signed two number one goaltenders and have a solid number three as well.
There is no confirmed source of this but DiPietro may be ready to call it quits, just 2 years into his contract and 7 into his career.
Keep in mind about what his injury is. You can always have corrective surgery on the hip or the groin and almost any upper body injury. With rehab you can almost return to top form, but the knees are one body part that once they become injured, they are never the same. We have all been waiting for the shocking story of the summer. Well folks, this may soon be it.
Greg Caggiano is a writer on Bleacher Report covering the New York Rangers. He has a New York area sports teams blog called Metro-Sports, where you can read great articles about all professional sports teams that play in the area by a dedicated team of young writers.
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