While the Islanders have transformed themselves on the ice into one of the Eastern Conference's best teams this season, their former goalie Rick DiPietro has also been hard at work at his own transition from sports to sports radio.
On 98.7 ESPN Radio in New York, DiPietro and Knicks reporter (and former Islanders beatwriter) Alan Hahn host the "Hahn and Humpty Show," in which they talk about the sports topics of the day, but not just limited to the NHL. DiPietro (the "Humpty" comes from his self-deprecating and once-secret Twitter handle) is able to marry his natural gift of gab and sense of humor to his experience as a pro athlete to give some fresh and often funny views on what's going on in the pro sports world.
On last night's show, prior to the Islanders win over Nashville, Hahn and DiPietro discussed the role of leadership in a pro locker room with the catalyst being Yankees' GM Brian Cashman's suggestion that his club end their captaincy line forever following the retirement of Derek Jeter. (Side Note: barf).
The topic allowed DiPietro to spill a few beans from inside the Islanders locker room during his career with the team, including Alexei Yashin's troubled tenure as captain and the time Bill Guerin got on DiPietro's case for pissing in the shower and taught him a lesson he won't forget.
On how teams should name captains organically, and Yashin's nomination to the 'C' via Islanders management:
Rick DiPietro: It needs to happen organically because you can get into problems. I've seen this happen in locker rooms where a coaching staff or a general manager will come in and tell you, 'Okay, this is your captain.' You'll get in the locker room and there'll be a 'C' on his jersey and guys resent it in the locker room because they look at each other and say, 'This guy isn't the captain.' You saw it happen with the Islanders. They came in and gave Alexei Yashin the captaincy. It wasn't something that...
Alan Hahn: ...not a leader.
RD: He wasn't a leader, it's not something guys thought he deserved and it caused a ton of problems and friction in the locker room because guys know. You said it perfectly, I hope people understand this. Guys. Know. You always talk about it in basketball - 'talent recognizes talent?' Guys in that locker room know the minute he steps in that locker room and grasps everybody. They just know, he goes out he's a professional like (current Knicks coach) Derek Fisher was in OKC.
(Side Note for Non-New Yorkers: It always comes back to the Knicks)
On creating a winning atmosphere through leadership and current Islanders captain John Tavares:
RD: That's what you're looking for when you name a captain - a standard of excellence to interweave through your history. When [someone] comes to that team he sees, 'Wow. John Tavares is the captain of this team. He stands for something. I want to be a part of that.'
On that time he took a piss in the shower and Bill Guerin used it as a teaching moment:
RD: Can I tell a quick story about accountability? So I'm sitting in the shower, Bill Guerin just becomes an Islander. I'm growing up my whole life, adoring Bill Guerin, USA Hockey, all those guys - Chelios, Richter, all those guys. We're in the shower, and not even thinking, I just start to... use the shower... I just start to pee in the shower.
He [Guerin] looks at me and goes, 'What are you doing?' I say, 'Nothing.' I say, 'It's no big deal.' He says, 'No, no. We don't pee in showers.'
To this day, I swear to God, I will walk into a shower - this is after he's gone - get the urge to do it and I'll think in my head, I can't do it. Bill Guerin doesn't think it's right.
AH: Bill Guerin doesn't like it. Like he'll just come out of nowhere and be like...
RD: In my head, that's what I'm thinking. I can't do this because this guy I adore said, 'That's not how you do it.'
A truncated podcast version can he heard here, and other topics include the NHL trade deadline, how the Islanders and Rangers would stack up against each other in a playoff series and why impressionable young hockey players get tattoos they later regret.
For all the issues Rick had during his playing days, it's been fun watching and listening to his insights this season and we wish him continued success and a rising profile. Even if he was known to pull a Costanza in the shower in his youth.
Time codes for your listening convenience for the podcast link:
- 2:35 Yashin captaincy
- 8:11 Winning teams/Tavares
- 11:15 Guerin shower peeing story
- 24:30 NHL trade deadline stuff
- 27:30 Islanders-Rangers match-up, including Jaroslav Halak's performance on the penalty kill