The New York Islanders have activated goaltender Rick DiPietro off of the injured reserve list. The news, as reported by the team's official site, comes off as a bit comical considering the date is August 1st and the Islanders last played back on April 7th. DiPietro has been on the mend since December 3rd of 2011, recovering from a list of injuries that number more than what some players deal with over the course of several seasons. DiPietro first suffered a groin strain followed by a sports hernia and some swelling in his knee.
Will 2012-13 be the year DiPietro finally avoids the dreaded IR list?
Poor DiPietro. Of course, we don't mean that literally considering the netminder is about to enter the seventh year of his massive 15-year, $67.5 million contract. Earning $4.5 million a year, DiPietro is far from being poor. Instead, we mean poor DiPietro in the sense that the netminder has been the punch line of jokes ever since the Islanders signed him to a massive contract back before the 2006-07 season. Numerous injuries and numerous laughs at DiPietro's expense later, the goaltender is one we just haven't been able to take seriously.
Since the 2007-08 season DiPietro has appeared in only 47 NHL games. He's averaging just over 11 appearances a season. By applying some basic math, the Islanders are paying DiPietro roughly $383,000 for each game he has skated since the 07-08 season. Ouch.
We're not rooting against DiPietro – we really aren't. When the news first broke that the Islanders handed out such a lengthy deal to a player in a contact sport – a goaltender no less – it was impossible to envision the deal working out smoothly. In reality, things have gone worse than any of us ever could have imagined.
We've come full circle. While it will be hard not to laugh at a joke at DiPietro's expense it's becoming harder and harder to root against him given his stretch of bad fortune. You've just got to feel bad for the guy. He just wants to play hockey but time and time again his body lets him down. Even if you're not a fan of the Islander you must feel some sort of sympathy for DiPietro the person.
What should we expect from DiPietro in 2012-13? It's not a matter of whether DiPietro will land on the IR again but more a matter of when and how he lands on the IR again. Here's to hoping DiPietro proves us all wrong and stay healthy for the duration of 2012-13. All of his injuries have distracted us from the fact that prior to all of his bad luck he showed plenty of promise. A healthy DiPietro in 2006-07 posted a record 32-19-9 with a GAA of 2.58 and a save percentage of .919.
Will DiPietro ever return to his old, healthy form we saw between 2005-06 and 2007-08? Time will tell. It would be a lot of fun to be able to write an analysis of DiPietro's play on the ice as opposed to another story about the time he will spend off of it.