On February 22, 2013, the Islanders placed goalie Rick DiPietro on waivers. In the short term, DiPietro was to be assigned to Bridgeport of the AHL, but the move was the team's first step in cutting ties with a former first overall pick who they signed to an eye-popping 15-year contract. The Islanders finally reached a buyout with DiPietro in July of that year.
Three years later, DiPietro has successfully transitioned to broadcasting, forming a radio show with former Newsday beat writer Alan Hahn and doing some intermission reports for Islanders games. The Hahn & Humpty Show (DiPietro is the self-deprecating "Humpty" half of that formula) has also started airing hour-long versions on MSG Network and on a recent show, DiPietro talked about what his hopes were when he signed his huge deal and how they all came crashing down on a road trip to Buffalo that took a detour to Bridgeport (and a sub shop).
Hahn asks DiPietro if he thinks he would have been a bigger star if he played for his hometown Bruins rather than the lower-profile Islanders. From there, DiPietro laments his health issues and the comparisons to the man who he replaced as the Islanders "Goalie of the Future," Roberto Luongo.
The problem was you get drafted first overall, they they trade Roberto Luongo. Listen, Roberto Luongo hasn't won a Stanley Cup, he's been on a couple of different teams, he's not a loyal guy. That's fine. You can say he's better than me and he probably is. But the ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup. He hasn't won one, I didn't win one.
DiPietro also reiterates how badly he wanted to stay with the Islanders for the duration of his career, and how he signed the contract with visions of Stanley Cups, a retired number and a front office gig. Instead, that damn injury bug happened. "Had I stayed healthy and fulfilled the length of that contract..." he says. "I couldn't have asked for more."
The second I signed that contract, as I signed my last name, all of those thoughts went through my mind. In 15 years, we have John Tavares, we're gonna win a Stanley Cup, they're gonna retire my number... 39 in the rafters. I can picture myself crying with my wife and my son. And after I retire, they're like, "hey you'd be great in the front office or you want to coach?" Absolutely. Islander for life... no. [raspberry]
Finally, DiPietro recounts how he learned he was put on waivers and bound for Bridgeport while the rest of his (soon-to-be-ex-) teammates were in Buffalo to play the Sabres. If you saw a distraught, bearded man with a Boston accent at a Jimmy Johns Subs at that time, chances are it was Rick.
I went and got Jimmy Johns and a frozen yogurt. Then I went back to my hotel room and sat in the fetal position.
Painful as it was for him, severing ties with DiPietro was absolutely the right thing for the Islanders, who finally had to move into the future with other, more reliable goalies. Rick's body may have failed him time and time (and time and time) again, but his personality and unrivaled loyalty to the Islanders have earned him plenty of well wishes, even now as his second career takes off.
Rick talks about his signature patriotic helmet artwork, that's a tribute to his Vietnam vet dad and the veterans memorialized at his old office, Nassau Coliseum.