Three months ago to the day, I sort of pledged not to do any day-by-day Rick DiPietro health updates. I'd had enough of that year-long saga and frankly, once the Islanders signed two bona fide NHL goaltenders (after drafting two more hopefuls), DiPietro became out of sight, out of mind to me, until (and unless) he comes back playing NHL hockey. As I ranted then:
It's not healthy for fan or player to fuss [every day] about [something that] really demanded long-term patience from the beginning, even though short-term interests directed otherwise. [snip] ... He's too young to write off -- but I'm not spending another moment worrying about whether or when he'll come back until I see it with my own two eyes...
Three months of deliberate rehab later, we're nearing that point. I'm still not going to get into the "Uh oh, the knee felt achy today" game, but today's "full" practice (for DiPietro, if not for most Islanders players) was a step that tells us an AHL Bridgeport rehab stint is finally within view.
After practice, the goatee-and-chops sportin' DiPietro took questions -- and looked oh-so-thrilled to take them -- and his funniest answer may have been regarding whether he's tired of hearing "When are you coming back?" from reporters, friends and family [more quotes and video of the man after the jump]:
"I think they know by now not to ask that question -- my friends and family at least."
DiPietro says he's getting better every week, the knee is responding well, and positionally he's doing basically everything he would be doing that was normal before.
Is he hurting after workouts? Everyone hurts after workouts. But he thinks it's responding well.
He also mentioned how sorry he is about missing so much time, but he's excited and committed to come back and justify the commitment Charles Wang made to him. "The expectations I have for myself are far greater than expectations anyone else puts on me."
Were the players taking it easy on him in practice? "[laughs] No, they like to score on me whenever they can. I appreciate that."
Here he is:
Busting Your #39 Jersey Out of Storage?
I have preached patience, calm, low expectations, even the see-no-DiPietro/hear-no-DiPietro approach -- in part, selfishly, because I was sick of the topic.
But I'm not the ringleader here. Well, I guess on this site I am, but the whole purpose of this site is for your input and discussion, so...: Are you happy about his progress? Not even thinking about it? Are you expecting much before the New Year? Are you dreading a February soap opera around whether he's healthy (and good) enough to justify trading Biron?
I will say this is one instance -- and here I go getting ahead of myself -- but this is one case where I will be grateful that Garth Snow the anti-Burke doesn't indulge in trade rumor scuttlebutt. If DiPietro looks like his comeback is successful some time this winter, then a Biron deal will come when Snow feels he has a fair offer. I don't want the drama of "Biron is going here or there (db5)" saturating the team, so hopefully Snow's tendency to be as tight-lipped as the Kremlin, in this case, has a positive effect.