Lets put aside the national attention that Rick Dipetro's "fight" with Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson for a second.
What is God's name is Rick thinking?
Rick not only has major knee and hip problems but also has had some serious concussion issues.
One punch from the much larger Johnson and Rick's knees buckled and down he went.
DP seems to have escaped mostly unscathed other than I'm sure his mighty ego and left cheek got bruised.
It could have been much worse.
Charles Wang has made a mighty large investment in him and for his to risk his own health especially with how prominent concussions have become in the NHL was a stupid thing to do.
I am sure Mr. Wang was not happy about that especially considering how much time DP has already spent on the disabled list the past 2 years.
Its obvious Rick was not expecting Johnson to throw any punches because he did not even protect himself.
Boom goes the dynamite.
DiPietro has struggled mightily this season and his numbers are well below his or any other starting NHL goalies standards.
The problem is there are 10 years left on his contract after this year.
Rick is not going anywhere unless the team sends him to the minors so he can work on his game to get back to his All Star status or the Islanders buy out the remainder of his contract.
We will get to that later.
Now to the media attention.
TSN had it as a lead story and their crew talked about it at length.
This is not the kind of media attention the Islanders want or need at this point. TSN has no respect for DiPietro or the Islanders, that much is evident.
They were basically saying Rick initiated the contact with Matt Cooke which forced his team mates to stick up for him.
They went on to say that Rick is arrogant and got what he deserved and the players on the Islanders resent Rick for starting the altercation.
Last I checked, Rick was pretty popular with his team mates and has made a lifetime commitment to a team that most would run away from.
Could it be that Rick is wearing out his welcome with the Islanders?
I highly doubt that.
I am sure there are a few people in the Islanders organization that wish Rick was not on a lifetime deal but Rick is a team guy and there is nothing he wants more than to be a part of a winner on Long Island.
Do people blame Rick for the long contracts now becoming a standard for the NHL's elite?
The pioneer of super long term contracts is not Rick DiPietro. Its Charles Wang.
When Mike Milbury traded for Alexei Yashin he promptly gave him a 10 year contract which at the time was unheard of in the NHL at the behest of Charles Wang.
That contract, followed by a 15 year contract to Rick which also carried with it Neil Smith out of Long Island set the stage for the mega deals now almost common place in the NHL last being Ilya Kovalchuk's 17 year contract with the Devils last year.
The longest contracts in the NHL have been limited to just a few teams but the practice is growing.
The Flyers have signed Danny Briere to an 8 year deal, Mike Richards to a 12 year deal and Jeff Carter to an 11 year deal.
The Red Wings have locked up Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen to 12 and 11 year deals respectively.
Tampa Bay signed Vinny Lecavalier to an 11 year deal.
The Blackhawks have Marian Hossa and Duncan Kieth under 12 year deals.
The Capitals have Ovechkin and Niklas Backstrom under 13 and 10 year deals respectively.
The Canucks have Roberto Luongo under a 12 year deal.
The trend will most assuredly continue as it has become the standard for teams that want to keep their stars and teams that want to lure stars from other teams.
On the surface the long term deals seem like a great thing. You lock up your best players and fans can rest easy knowing they do not have to worry about losing their cornerstone players.
When Rick signed his deal and when Yashin signed his people scratched their heads sure but the Islanders are a team that had to take that gamble. The problem is that when the deal does not work out you have exactly the problems the Islanders have right now.
The Islanders are suffering for these deals as over 9 million of their salary this season was paid to Yashin and DiPietro.
All of the other deals mentioned above are to major impact players in the NHL who are healthy and contributiong on a nightly basis. The same cannot be said for the Islanders.
So what can the Islanders do with Rick? He cannot keep putting up numbers like he is right now with a 3.30 Goals against average and a .890 save percentage.
That fact is made to look worse when rookie Kevin Poulin is putting up numbers like he is at 2.37 goals against and a sterling .929 save percentage on with the same players in front of him.
Poulin looks to be the goaltender of the future for the Islanders. The problem is? another lengthy, costly buy out will be required.
So how costly would a buy out of Rick's contract be?
Well, Rick has 10 years left on his contract after this season at 4.5 million per season. a buy out takes the total value of the contract and allows it to be paid over double of the time left on the contract.
So the Islanders would be on the hook to pay Rick 1.5 million over the next 20 years at a grand total of 30 million. That would net the Islanders a savings of 15 million on a buyout over the length of the contract.
Garth Snow and Charles Wang are going to have a very large decision to make this summer.
Mistakes are costly. The bigger the gamble, the more costly the mistake.
Don't forget, Evgeni Nabokov is still under contract to the Islanders and unless he reports to the Islanders at least for next season he will sit out all of next season also.
He comes at a bargain at 570k for next season. Nabokov and Poulin would make the Islanders goaltending tandem next season in the event of a buy out and Nabokov does not continue his career suicide.
Buying out Rick is a long shot as of right now. He is still working out the kinks in a comeback from a series of injuries that would have forced a lesser man to hang up his skates and collect on the insurance money for the rest of his life.
Rick wants to succeed. He has a burning desire to be the player he was 3 years ago and will not give up unless his body completely breaks down.
But that already may be the case. Rick has had health issues this season and he has been mostly a shadow of his former self.
Can he recover and be the player he once was? Or is Rick finished as a full time cornerstone net minder?
There is no one rooting for Rick DiPietro harder than me. I admire the fact he signed his career to the New York Islanders when almost no one else would make one quarter of the commitment he has made to Long Island.
That being said the numbers do not lie and they are not pretty.
Should the Islanders buy out Rick or give him more time to work through his rust?
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