"Rick has followed the protocol for his rehabilitation diligently. He experienced tightness and discomfort in his leg during the Bridgeport game on Friday, Dec. 11, and we felt it was in his best interest to sit out the rest of the game. He will resume practicing with the Islanders beginning next week and we will continue to be cautious and look at his recuperation as a long term process."
I've mentioned a few times that I'm not a big fan of following each Rick DiPietro rehab up and down with baited breath, but I figured I should put this up here. (Hey, particularly for our goaltender of the decade.)
As I understand the CBA and terms of a "conditioning loan" to the AHL (which "shall not extend for more than fourteen days" per section 13.8), the Islanders had to make some sort of decision on DiPietro regardless of the fact that new "discomfort" caused him to skip his third rehab start. Bringing him back to practice with the big club (while still on IR) is such a decision. Considering the new "discomfort," I don't believe this prevents another conditioning stint later on, but correct me if you understand that differently. (The CBA's "insides were a rocky place, where my [reason] could find no purchase.")
The words "cautious" and seeing recuperation "as a long term process" tell me they're in no hurry to put him in a game, thankfully, but it's always hard to replicate game conditions when you're the third wheel no matter which team you're assigned to. Figuring out when he'll be "game ready" will always be dicey. So his next step and timing after the holiday roster freeze (Dec. 19 - 27) remains a toss-up. Same as it ever was.