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NEW YORK -- Twice in one week, beleaguered goaltender Rick DiPietro has been the talk of the Twitter-verse, but this time the never-ending jabs and jokes came to a grinding halt after a local television reporter revealed that DiPietro said he had entertained suicidal thoughts over the past three years.
However, the former New York Islanders goaltender insists those comments he made to News 12 Long Island were not meant to be taken literally.
"I was just trying to draw attention to how important my wife has been to me," DiPietro told ESPNNewYork.com in a telephone interview.
I was just trying to draw attention to how important my wife has been to me.” -- Rick DiPietro on remarks
he made about suicide
DiPietro said he told the reporter that if he had not had his wife's support through all the lows he has experienced -- most recently being waived by the Islanders -- that he'd have driven himself "into a tree."
"DiPietro also admitted injuries, losing and fan hatred over the past three years made him think about killing himself at one point," the News 12 Long Island reporter tweeted.
DiPietro said he was attempting to underscore the support he has received from his wife, Cassie, and not to make light of suicide or be insensitive about the issue.
This doesn't mean that DiPietro is having an easy time. The 31-year-old goalie, whose career has been derailed by a laundry list of injuries, suffered his latest round of disappointment Friday when the team waived him and sent him to their minor league club.
"Obviously, it hasn't been easy," he said. "Of course, it's been hard."
After being notified of the social-media stir his comments created, DiPietro said he has received numerous calls and text messages from friends and family members. He was heartened by that outpouring of support, but said he felt badly that he made others worry about him.
The former No. 1 overall draft pick, whose 15-year, $67.5 million contract has made him the subject of endless ridicule and scorn, said the most difficult thing to deal with is how hard he has worked to get healthy and return to form without corresponding results.
"That's the hardest part for me. It's just unfortunate that you work so hard and care so much and even when you do, it doesn't pay off," he said. "Sometimes you just think, 'Man, what do I have to do?' "
DiPietro told the Long Island station that being waived felt like the Islanders "ripped my heart out, stabbed it, set it on fire and flushed it down the toilet."
Islanders general manager Garth Snow said in a statement that the team will handle the matter internally.
"We are aware of Rick's comments today and the severity of them," Snow said. "We will handle them internally as we do all player matters. This is an opportunity for Rick to play lots of games in Bridgeport."
A source also told ESPNNewYork.com that the appropriate medical personnel within the league have been notified about DiPietro's comments, as has the NHL Players Association, in the event there is any outstanding concern for his well-being.
DiPietro said that no matter how difficult things might get, though, he still has perspective.
"Look, I've been to a Yankees game and seen Derek Jeter booed," he said. "I've seen it all."