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Few Clouds 31° Good Afternoon
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DiPietro frustrated, uncertain if he'll return soon

As his teammates plunged into their daily training session, Rick DiPietro was taking his leave from IceWorks in Syosset after another day of off-ice physical therapy. It is now more than seven weeks since he last appeared in a game, and more than three weeks since renewed swelling in his surgical left knee returned him to the rehabilitation mode.

Now 28, the former all-star has played only 13 games in the past two seasons after averaging more than 60 the previous three years. Beginning with a concussion in March of 2007, he has undergone three operations -- one on his hip and two on his knee -- and appears to be done for this season as well.

The Islanders have not officially shut him down, and he responded to a question about his status by saying, “I don’t even know how to answer that.”

Discouraged? “No,” he insisted. “The knee’s good. Everything they’ve done, it’s held up.” For the swelling, the Rx is “just rehab and stuff.”

So, another wasted year? “It’s not a wasted year,” he said. “I proved I could come back and play in the NHL. I know I can play. I’ve already proved it. I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in.

“It’s not even a setback. You can’t turn back time. I did what the doctor said to do. Is it frustrating? Yeah. But it’s part of what happens to athletes.”

New York Sports