Wednesday, March 19, 2008
DiPietro's season ends prematurely for second year in a row
ESPN.com news services
New York Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro will be shut down for the rest of the season and undergo hip surgery for the second time in two seasons.
The operation was scheduled for Wednesday in Vail, Colo. According to Newsday, the procedure would take place at the Steadman Clinic.
DiPietro is finishing the second season of a landmark 15-year contract. This marks the second straight year that the team's 26-year-old goalie needs hip surgery. The left one was operated on after last season's playoffs; now the right one needs repair.
The decision for DiPietro to have surgery was made after he had an MRI exam on Tuesday. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Marc Philippon, who also performed the surgery to repair the tear in DiPietro's left hip last offseason. Philippon recently operated on DiPietro's teammate Mike Sillinger as well as Islanders general manager Garth Snow, a former NHL goalie. DiPietro recovered in time for September's training camp, and a source told Newsday that the timetable is expected to be the same this time around.
"Rick wanted badly to be with his team until the end of the season, but this decision was made with his best long-term interests in mind," Snow said in a statement. "Rick took his game to even greater heights this season, deservedly being named a National Hockey League All-Star for the first time in his career.
"He gave everything he had to the Islanders and our fans this season and was a warrior all the way through. By having the surgery immediately, Rick will have plenty of time to be at 100 percent long before the start of Islanders training camp in September," Snow said.
It is also the second time in two seasons that backup goalie Wade Dubielewicz will finish for the Islanders. Last year, Dubielewicz carried the team to the playoffs after DiPietro suffered a concussion. The postseason seems highly unlikely this year, however, with the Islanders struggling with a lack of offensive production and numerous injuries.
DiPietro had a stellar first half this season and appeared in the All-Star Game for the first time in his career. However, while miked-up during the skills competition, DiPietro made what was then considered a humorous and off-color remark about "messing up" his hip. He was injured during a breakaway drill when he tried to stop Minnesota's Marian Gaborik. DiPietro played in the All-Star Game the following day but has struggled since.
DiPietro was 26-28-7 this season with a 2.82 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage but was 7-12 with a 3.38 GAA in 19 starts since the All-Star break. In his final eight starts of the season, DiPietro went 1-7 and allowed at least three goals in every outing. He was touched for four goals five times, including an appearance last week in which Tampa Bay scored eight on 44 shots.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.