Let's face it - when the New York Islanders waived Rick DiPietro and buried his contract with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, no one was surprised. Jokes were cracked about both the length and amount of his contract and his propensity to get injured, like both were some personal flaw. Sure, Garth Snow and Charles Wang were idiotic for offering any player, let alone a goaltender, a contract for fifteen years, but if someone came up to you and offered you that job security and a paycheck worth $67,500,000, would you not take that in a heartbeat?
Obviously sports fans are fickle, and many turned on DiPietro when the goaltender was hit with multiple injuries, several career threatening. Being injury prone is sometimes treated just the same as having a bad work ethic, as though DiPietro hurt himself on purpose. He didn't, and he's worked hard to come back from his injuries, which makes these tweets today, from an interview with Kevin Maher, even harder to read.
DiPietro told me Isles waiving him felt like, "they ripped my heart out, stabbed it, set it on fire and flushed it down the toilet."— Kevin Maher (@KMaherNews12) February 28, 2013
I asked DiPietro if he thinks he's still part of the Islanders future plans. He said, "I don't know." @news12li— Kevin Maher (@KMaherNews12) February 28, 2013
DiPietro also admitted injuries, losing and fan hatred over the past 3 years made him think about killing himself at one point.— Kevin Maher (@KMaherNews12) February 28, 2013
That last tweet is absolutely heartbreaking. Maher's full interview will air on Thursday, February 28th on Channel 12 News Long Island, but even from the brief outtakes you can feel how dejected DiPietro is. It certainly makes the jokes at his expense less funny. Sometimes fans forget that hockey players -- any public figure, really -- are people too, and criticism, mockery, and catcalls wear them down. It must have weighed on DiPietro to constantly read the things said about himself in the press, and I'm sure that it, coupled with things outside of his control, was not easy for him to take.
Some people have problems feeling sympathy for wealthy athletes, but I don't think it's hard to feel it for DiPietro.
UPDATE: Rick DiPietro might have been joking about the whole suicide thing.
#Isles Just spoke with Rick DiPietro, who assured me he was totally kidding. Although he knows that's not something to joke about anymore— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) February 28, 2013
#Isles Anyone that knows DiPietro knows that he can have a pretty dark, self-deprecating sense of humor. DP admits its been a tough 3 yrs— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) February 28, 2013
Well then. That certainly changes things. If DiPietro can joke about something as serious as suicide, we can all continue to laugh at his NHL struggles. But seriously, this could just be a case of bad reporting. DiPietro's quotes/comments should have been confirmed and analyzed before being published.
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@JeffreyKleiman awkward. it obviously didn't come across that way. Only he knows what he meant. Hope he really was kidding.