The team had Garth Snow on air to discuss Rick DiPietro's assignment to AHL Bridgeport. The expected careful language ensued.
During the pre-game show for Saturday night's New York Islanders game in Buffalo, the team had GM Garth Snow on air to answer Howie Rose questions about the waiving of Rick DiPietro, among other topics. They'll surely post video at the team site and/or at MSG, but here are some of the highlights, in roughly transcribed form:
Rose: How long has this move been discussed?
Snow: It's something I thought about long and hard. He hasn't played much the last three-four years, and obviously playing in practice isn't the same as games.
... It's an opportunity for RIcky to play in games and get his game back.
Rose: You played together, even roomed together I believe. Does that make it [a little harder] decision?
Snow: You try to separate it. Obviously Rick is a friend and always will be a friend. That's one of the things that goes along with being a manager, you have to make tough decisions.
Rose: Did you ever sense players ... might have been losing confidence in DiPietro?
Snow: No, no. This season ... isn't about one player, it's the 20 guys in the lineup each night. This is an opportunity for him to get games…
Rose: Do you think he can still be at least a quasi-successful goaltender in the National Hockey League?
Snow: I think he can. He's made some brilliant saves this year. The ability is there. It's a situation where he just needs to get consistent game action. You can't replicate it in practice.
[They transition to Kevin Poulin, called up after DiPietro cleared waivers.]
Rose: Poulin, are you convinced Poulin can be a NHL goaltender right now. Could he be here to stay?
Snow: Like any young player, it's doing it on a consistent basis. He's going to have an opportunity here to get some starts in the near term, so he has to take the ball and run with it.
Rose: [With the condensed schedule and Nabokov's age], do you expect more starts for Poulin?
Snow: [Basically] up to the coaches. [Certainly the opportunity is there.]
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Then Rose takes the interview toward future roster moves. An awkward turtle exchange ensues about if the Isles have a priority to find a Clark Gillies or power forward type to be a deterrent next to John Tavares and Matt Moulson. [I'm not transcribing it, because the body language of both parties was more communicative than the words. Essentially, Snow asks: "Is there a team that *wouldn't* want a player like that?"]
I'm not sure if Rose was trying to get at the Kyle Okposo question (he failed on the first line, and is not a deterrent) or the Nino Niederreiter situation (fans clamor for his recall, but while he's physical he's hardly a "deterrent" type of power forward). It was odd, but it was fun to watch. Snow said Boyes is doing a good job on the first line, and Snow pointed to the usual suspects -- Matt Carkner, Matt Martin, Eric Boulton, Joe Finley -- for the "team toughness" thing, but of course Rose is referring to getting someone who is a top line player who can also fight.
After that, the roster/deadline talk concluded with Snow saying they'd know what they want to do closer to the deadline. "Kenny Morrow has told me since I came here that your team will dictate what moves you make around the trade deadline."
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Again, that's a faithful but hardly word-for-word transcript. Check the team sites for video footage later.
Overall, it's about what you'd expect given this team's history of handling these personnel matters without impugning their players. The whole "keep it in the family" approach. On a very literal level, it's true that if DiPietro is ever to regain NHL-caliber form, then he needs reps -- and the team clearly can't afford to give him those reps on the NHL roster.
That said, I doubt many believe it's truly possible for him to rebound like that. His body just does not appear capable anymore. It's a sad story all around, one that the contract has made carry on much longer than it otherwise would have.