74° Good Afternoon
74° Good Afternoon

DiPietro frustrated, unsure if he'll return soon

Whither Rick DiPietro?

The Islanders had one retired NHL goalie in the nets during practice Tuesday - and two others relatively handy - but DiPietro, the former All-Star who seems forever in rehabilitation mode, was taking his leave from IceWorks in Syosset just as his teammates plunged into their daily training session.

The Islanders have not officially shut down DiPietro for the final 10 games of his second mostly inactive season, but he continues to spend his mornings in off-ice physical therapy and is gone by the time the skating starts.

His response to a question about his status was, "I don't even know how to answer that."


"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."

It is now more than seven weeks since DiPietro last appeared in a game, and more than three weeks since renewed swelling in his surgically repaired left knee returned him to the rehab routine.

Now 28, he has played only 13 games in the past two seasons after averaging more than 60 the previous three years. Following a concussion in March 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.

So, with Martin Biron, the usual backup to Dwayne Roloson, still in Buffalo with his wife awaiting the birth of the couple's fourth child, the other fellow working behind a goalie mask Tuesday was Mike Dunham, the team's goaltending coach who ended his NHL playing career three years ago.

Of course, general manager Garth Snow also was an NHL goalie, for 12 years, and coach Scott Gordon's NHL resume consisted of 23 games in the nets with the now-defunct Quebec Nordiques.

Might Gordon somehow be pressed into action during training? "No," Gordon promised.

For tonight's game at Madison Square Garden, Biron will be available to back up Roloson against the Rangers.

New York Sports