Brian O'Reilly, the father of unsigned Avalanche center Ryan O'Reilly and a noted man of letters, sent Lighthouse Hockey an email today. It was a heartfelt response to the news that the Islanders had placed Rick DiPietro on waivers and the senior O'Reilly wanted to give his advice to Rick and extend his best wishes toward him.
He gave us permission* to reprint that response here. Brian is a life coach, running his own business called Human Potential Plus. It has been lightly touched up for a couple minor spelling and punctuation things. Also, paragraph breaks were added so that it could be read by a human. But it reads as follows:
"I hope this finds you in good spirits. This is not about money or injuries or more injuries and never has been. As you know you don't build team based on dollars. You build a team on its Character. Rick, you are not a superstar based on skill or facial hair but Character. I know this for a fact the player you were yesterday will not be the player you will be tomorrow when your Character will continue to grow learn and thrive in Bridgeport .The world values it less and less, yet everyone is looking for those players that eat sleep and drink the game plus compete because they are intrinsically motivated for excellence by their Character. You are one of these Character players, Rick, even though you probably got hurt trying to do all of those things at once.
My children were raised in an environment of sport where Athletics was held up as something you do to develop your sense of Personhood, Qualities of-collaboration,Team play and most important the development of your Character. Unfortunately, I hear your Character was raised in the Boston area.
How many goals you give up in the last few minutes of a game or how many games you missed due to injury is not how you measure yourself. What was important was giving your best day in day out and your Leadership and Character were shown on a daily bases by treating doctors, nurses, surgeons and training staff well every time you saw them for a new procedure.
If my son was getting 95 in math, then he got hurt dropping a text book on his foot then came back and pierced his buttock sitting on a compass then came back and got a protractor stuck in his ear, then got a 65 and the rest of the students in the classroom mercilessly teased him to we would say that student has a tremendous amount of Character!
So when I looked at the New York Islanders (a team I admit I am not familiar with) and your 15-year contract l see well-prepared team, Willing to negotiate by looking at the necessity of Character and wanting to build a Longterm commitment to that Character.
Sure, it could lead to the absolute worst case scenario in which a player, signed to a lifetime deal, becomes so ravaged by injuries that he can never come close to living up to expectations while at the same time being utterly unable to attain a fresh start by taking his Character to another team. Following the example of your Character, other teams have signed similar unwieldy deals . but only the player with the highest Character can embody the most dire and depressing nightmares of all fanbases . It requires true Character to take the bullet for the entire league . Every fan of every team ought be thanking you and celebrating your surgically-repaired Character!
As a high-performance coach and I have been studying Character for a lot of years. Character, compete level , dedication, the love of the game,is what are the building blocks for dynasties. Not health or skill or talent or financial stability or the ability to bolster prospects with free agents - Character!
Everyone's character has to decide the value of their own character and the character of others by how they treat your character's character. It's as simple as that!
The New York Islanders I believe have treated you fairly. You have thirteen wonderful years with them. Where we go from here will be a matter of Character. And busses. Because that's how AHL players travel around.
Yours in Character,
PS: Remember: CHARACTER!
PPS: Do you have Lindy Ruff's e-mail address?
We thank Brian for his letter and will pass it along to Rick if we can.
*Not really. This is a hastily-written parody of the Denver Post story. I'm sure Brian O'Reilly has no idea who we are and, despite being the inspiration for this parody, is a man of Character.
Poke fun at the injuries, the contract, the beard, the losses. But very few players in the last decade or so have been as dedicated to the New York Islanders as Rick DiPietro. It didn't work out the way anyone wanted it to. Rick's body may have betrayed him, but he never betrayed the team. I wish Rick nothing but success in the future, wherever it is, and I hope to God this is the last thing I need to write about him.