play against the Rangers tomorrow night or if the whack to his right eye from
Sidney Crosby's stick will require more healing. In any case, the franchise
goalie has not suffered a long-term injury, according to a team spokesman.
An examination late Saturday night - after the uniquely stirring Al Arbour
ceremony at Nassau Coliseum - led Dr. Bruce Zagelbaum, the team
ophthalmologist, to determine that DiPietro did not suffer any serious damage
to the eye, team public relations executive Chris Botta said.
DiPietro will be re-examined today. He could not be reached yesterday to
speak about his vision, the cuts near his eye or the high stick from Penguins
superstar Crosby. Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek said after his team's 3-2
win that he inadvertently knocked Crosby's stick toward DiPietro's mask.
The Islanders were reassured by Zagelbaum's diagnosis, but they do
recognize that any eye injury is a red flag. Defenseman Bryan Berard -
"progressing" in his recovery from a groin injury, coach Ted Nolan said -
nearly lost his eye and his career when he was struck by a stick seven years
Also, any blow to the head is a cautionary event for DiPietro, whose
2006-07 season was disrupted by a concussion. The team has invested a lot of
its money, hope and identity in the goalie. When captain Bill Guerin held a
question-and-answer session during a Literacy Day appearance Tuesday, one
elementary school student asked, "Do you know Rick DiPietro?"
Against the Lightning Thursday, DiPietro had a shutout and an assist in the
same game for the first time in his career. He also got engaged that night,
although when he was asked the next day about the latter milestone, he said, "I
don't want to talk about that." Hockey questions only.
The team lists him as day-to-day. Backup goalie Wade Dubielewicz and his
teammates played well Saturday for Arbour, who coached his 1,500th Islanders
game. The 2007 Islanders responded the way his old teams often did, with a
rousing comeback from a two-goal deficit.
"I really didn't do that much, let's put it that way," Arbour said. "The
players and Ted Nolan did the whole thing, and the [assistant] coaches."
Nolan had a different take, though, saying, "Him being here won the game
for us." He called the chance to stand alongside Arbour "a thrill" and "a
great, great honor."
Arbour, 75 and coming off a serious post-surgery infection in recent years,
had been reluctant to make the one-game return. "Ted Nolan said he thought
about it and he wanted me to do it. I said, well, I'll do it for the alumni
because over the years, they've been overlooked," he said.
It crested with a rare postgame ceremony that brought an eclectic mix on
the ice: Arbour, Nolan and staff, current players, Arbour's family, owner
those included, later said you'd be hard-pressed to find a similar event
anywhere "in the history of sports."
Although Arbour dedicated his appearance to his former players, the current
ones perhaps got the most out of it. Guerin said, "It gives us a sense of
pride in ourselves and in the organization."
Miroslav Satan, who scored the tying and winning goals, said, "It hit me
after the game, when I saw the ceremony and all those former Islanders out
there. Having Al Arbour coming to talk to us at the morning skate and before
the game and during the game, calling the guys' lines, it was really special.
You don't get too many games like that, to play for a legend."
Here's something else you don't see every day. The Islanders, famous for
always having a "Rangers hangover" right after they play their rival, now have
to fight an emotional letdown before they face the Rangers.