Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rick DiPietro Out Indefinitely After Being Struck by Beach Ball

The unconscious DiPietro immediately after impact,
only seconds before hitting the ground.
New York Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro, only days after returning to the team’s active roster after mercilessly attacking Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson’s fist with his face in an inconclusive early-February fight, will likely return to injured reserve after being struck by an errant beach ball before the team’s March 19 game vs. the Florida Panthers. Team doctors expect him to remain on IR until beleaguered Islanders fans manage to find some glimmer of hope in their long dark decade of disappointment, at which point DiPietro is likely to return, fully prepared for his next devastating injury.

Rick DiPietro’s fighting coach.
DiPietro, in the fifth year of a fifteen-year, $67.5 million contract with the Islanders, was the #1 overall draft pick back in 2000, started for Team USA in the 2006 Olympics, and was selected to start for an injured Martin Brodeur in the 2008 NHL All-Star game.1

Starting in 2007, however, injuries began to take their toll—DiPietro has missed significant playing time because of (at least) two concussions, two hip surgeries, one wrist sprained after tripping over Brian Griese’s dog,2 two knee surgeries, three instances of post-surgical swelling of the knees, one partial decapitation in a unicycle accident, one broken elbow sustained in a thumbwar, one lacerated scalp sustained in an (allegedly) drunken faceplant on Terrell Davis’s driveway,3 and of course the broken jaw courtesy of his unfortunate encounter with Johnson, which somehow also hurt his knee.4

DiPietro has played only thirteen games in the past two seasons, and his numbers in those games are about what you’d expect from any Islanders goaltender of the last twenty years not named Billy Smith. While it’s possible that DiPietro will regain his health and his All-Star-worthy level of play, the Islanders can take solace in the fact that his contract is on the books only until 2020, at which point science will have advanced to the point where he’ll be mostly bionic anyway.

1. At the skills competition preceding that All-Star Game, DiPietro, wearing a microphone for the live broadcast, announced after making an awkward moment in a shootout competition that he had “just fucked [his] hip up.” Some network people were probably offended by this, but, seriously, guys, what did you expect when you put a microphone on a hockey player?
2. Wait, no, sorry, we’re thinking of Brian Griese.
3. Griese again. Sorry.
4. Yes, he got punched in the face and hurt his knee. (In addition to his face.) Either Rick DiPietro incredibly fragile, or Brent Johnson hits very, very hard.

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