Former Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro rehearses for his show with...

Former Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro rehearses for his show with Alan Hahn on ESPN Radio inside the studio in Manhattan on Sept. 3, 2014. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Rick DiPietro will not be playing professional hockey anymore, barring a dramatic medical advance.

As he put it, "Unless they develop some kind of bionic leg that I can get put on and try to get back on the ice."

But at 33, the former Islanders goaltender appears to have found his post-NHL calling, something he "stumbled into" and as recently as Labor Day week 2014 still was little more than a lark.

Now it's real, this Labor Day week more than ever.

After a year working mostly nights for ESPN New York radio, the team of DiPietro and Alan Hahn began Tuesday as the station's regular midday team from noon to 3 p.m.

"I can't believe that in a year this all would happen so quickly," DiPietro said Thursday as he and Hahn carpooled into Manhattan from their Long Island homes.

"Alan joked [last year] every time we did a show, we'll be here tomorrow, and we're going to keep doing this until they tell us to stop."

They never did, and now here "Hahn and Humpty" are, the first local voices heard on the station weekdays after six hours of national programming.

"It's always nice to get the first word in on what's happening in New York," said DiPietro, whose "Humpty" moniker refers to his oft-broken body. (His Twitter handle is @HDumpty39.)

This all began on Aug. 11, 2014, when DiPietro joined Hahn and Brian Custer for a summer fill-in shift. Two nights later, Hahn was to work alone but invited DiPietro to come along.

The two had gotten to know one another during Hahn's days covering the Islanders for Newsday. Hahn now is a Knicks studio analyst for MSG Network.

When Newsday first featured the duo on Sept. 5, 2014, they still had no idea how long their makeshift show would go on.

By the end of the month, they were the regular night-time team.

Now this.

"I think it just goes back to the fact that Alan and I are really close friends," DiPietro said. "You can't fake that kind of chemistry and we both love sports, so I think that just kind of translates over the airwaves."

DiPietro didn't necessarily need the money from a new job. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 draft, 2006 Olympian and 2008 NHL All-Star signed a 15-year, $67.5-million deal with the Islanders that the team bought out in 2013.

But he certainly needed something to do, and he found a calling in a format that utilizes his quick wit, broad range of sports knowledge and athlete's perspective. (One New York radio oddity: He hasn't lost his Boston-area accent.)

"It's a scary world, and at my age, at only 33 and not able to play hockey anymore, it's like, what do I do with my life?" he said. "You're used to making a certain amount of money and doing a certain amount of work and you get to the real world and it's 'where are you going to make that money?' You're not.

"You have to find something you love doing. Luckily for me, Alan dragged me out of the house and brought me in the radio studio with him, and I couldn't be happier with how it's turned out so far."

One pleasant surprise that began last summer and has continued: lots of social media love.

"To be completely honest, it's been amazing," he said. "I'll get tweets from people who start the conversation with 'I hated you as an Islander,' and I'm like, 'Uh-oh, where's this going?' But Rangers fans will be like, 'We love you on the radio!'

"As a professional athlete, a lot of times you have a hard time opening up with the media and giving people a glimpse of your real personality. But now, being on the radio for three hours a day, you can't help but do it, so the fans have been tremendous."

One listener began a fan Twitter account called "Humpty Hahntourage" that has more than 12,000 followers.

Before Hahn and DiPietro were given the noon to 3 p.m. slot, Mike Lupica had a 1 to 3 p.m. show that drew ratings roughly one-third as high as those of WFAN's Mike Francesa for those hours.

Might the new show put a dent in that gap?

"I don't think we're even thinking about that right now," DiPietro said. "I think our main goal is to be entertaining. If you're going to do a three-hour show, we're just hoping listeners are having as much fun with us as we're having in the studio.

"When you talk about Mike Francesa, you're talking about one of the best in the business in all sports talk radio across the country. We're only doing this going into our second year so we have a lot to work on, but as long as we keep having fun and people enjoy listening to us, I think stuff like that will eventually take care of itself."

Hahn, 44, and DiPietro certainly bring a younger, more pop-culture-savvy sensibility to the air than does Francesa. Now there is a new audience to connect with.

"We're definitely getting new listeners, but it's a little bit of an adjustment period for us, too, because you can't get away with as much in the midday, so we're trying to feel our way through that," DiPietro said.

The midday slot will allow for more continuity than the nighttime one, which frequently bumped into Knicks and Rangers coverage in the winter.

The duo's visibility got a boost in the spring when ESPN launched postgame shows after Rangers playoff games, with DiPietro bringing an obvious dose of expertise and credibility.

"I think this was the first time in a long time that both New York hockey teams were legitimate contenders for the Stanley Cup," he said. "I think that's definitely a piece of it, that people would turn on the station to listen to a Rangers game and we'd be on afterward and it kind of turned us on to different people."

The midday show offers more of the lifestyle rhythm of a normal job, allowing DiPietro to be home for dinner with his wife and spend time with his young son.

But it also means being on the radio during the day, then watching lots of sports at night.

"It gives me the excuse that when I'm watching too much sports and my wife yells at me, I can say, 'Listen, I'm working here!' " he said. "It's like, 'What do you want to watch?' The Mets game. I have to watch the Mets game.'

"I don't think you can even call this work. It's a passion of mine and I know Alan feels the same way. We just like doing it. I don't consider it work. It's a job because it pays you, but it's definitely not work."

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