Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Rick DiPietro: the 2019 Vezina Trophy Winner

Yesterday was a rough day in both the northwestern and southeastern Hockey Rants bureaus; Jes faced both Ryan Kesler's infidelity and Vladimir Orszagh's 54th injury in the last two years; I had to deal with the news that personal favorite František "Chicken Paprika" Kaberle is out for much of the season. Trying times.

But we can both find solace in knowing that at least we don't root for the New York Islanders. It must be tough to be an Islander fan (if any Islander fans remain), knowing that proclaiming your allegiance will provoke muffled laughter, knowing that your team's name is synonymous with hilarity throughout the league. Blackhawks fans can laugh at the Islanders, relieved in the knowledge that at least the mismanagement in Chicago is good old-fashioned incompetence rather than the shrieking insanity out on Long Island.

As you've likely already read/heard, the Islanders committed themselves yesterday to keeping goalie Rick DiPietro -- he of the zero career playoff appearances -- solvent until he's 40, a move that met with universal acclaim.

Many pundits have weighed in to debate whether it's a good idea or not -- of COURSE it's not a good idea. It's a bad idea on a par with sticking your arm in the garbage disposal or drinking motor oil. Alexei Yashin can skate around in dreamy circles, knowing that his contract is no longer universally regarded as the stupidest in the lague, or even on his own team.

Joking about the Islanders is kind of useless, because the reality trumps any jests immediately. Just this off-season, for instance:

* they hired Neil Smith and Ted Nolan to great fanfare, then fired Smith to great fanfare, then elevated a career backup goalie straight to the GM's seat

* the Islander legend widely rumored to have played a part in Smith's dismissal immediately resigned

* they've given nice-sized contracts to Tom Poti, Chris Simon, Brendan Witt, and Mike Sillinger, players no one else particularly wanted

* and now this. I probably forgot a few things, I know.

Before I took a wrong turn into rant-land, this was intended to be a preview of the Isles, but that kind of says it all. On the ice, the club is still centered around Yashin, a player that teams have been trying and failing to build around for more than a decade. Beyond Alex, they have a few guys (Miro Satan, Alexei Zhitnik, Mike York, Sillinger) who are nice complementary players but not the type you want spearhehading the attack, a talented young fellow (Trent Hunter) who took a step back last year, a few character guys, and not much else. The backup goaltender in case $67.5 million Ricky goes down is "Wade Dubielewicz," which I'm pretty sure is Garth Snow's alias. Denis Grebeshkov and Sean Bergenheim decided to play in Russia rather than take part in the Long Island Meltdown.

Preview? What more is needed beyond "Wow, they're going to suck"? At least they'll make things interesting for the New York Post beat writers this year.

Not that it matters, but Mike Dunham will be Ricky's back up this year. No word if he'll get a 10 year deal to solidify the position for a decade
Work was fun today. Every once in a while, one of my coworkers and I would shake our heads, say "15 years," and start snickering.

(I think everyone else in the lab thought we were insane, but that is par for the course!)
Don't forget that they drafted, then traded away Roberto Luongo for the chance at snapping up DiPietro; they also signed Viktor Kozlov, since having one Russian floater at center wasn't enough; Richard Park, who couldn't stick with the defensive-minded Wild, was tried out by the offensive-minded Canucks and didn't make an impact either... Wang wanted sumo wrestler-sized goalies... it goes on and on...
they've given nice-sized contracts to Tom Poti, Chris Simon, Brendan Witt, and Mike Sillinger, players no one else particularly wanted
Apart from Witt (who others would want), this is true. The Isles whole offseason has been one big WTF?!

If this was Ovechkin or Crosby or somebody with uber talent, a 15-year deal would make some sense... but DiPietro? He may very well be the next Chris Osgood. Sure, goalies take a whole to develop, but nothing suggests that DiPietro is going to be the next supergoalie.

What if DiPietro does become great? Does he try and renegotiate because he feels he's being paid below his value?

I love watching this trainwreck. It helps me with the misery of the Blues and Canucks failures.
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