This morning some scientists cheered, others were thinking we were doomed. Not sure if anyone else has been following the story, but if you check CNN you will find one of the most interesting, and yet, disturbing, scientific stories in quite a while. One of the largest physics experiment ever conceived began just this morning as you were swilling down a Latte. Protons were fired around a 17-mile tunnel deep beneath the border of France and Switzerland.
Other scientists and groups have been trying to shut this down unsuccessfully, fearful that they can create a black hole. For the experiment eventually is going to have them slam two protons together in order to recreate the 'just-after' of the Big Bang, as to glean the secrets of the universe. By doing so, can potentially create a minuscule black hole. Opponents fear that the black hole would be capable of swallowing the planet.
This hockey season, I'll just ask for a smaller scale for the Isles to glean the secrets of Rick DiPietro's head to avoid a black hole in goal on Long Island.
"I've said it before, but I want to play every game. We'll see what they have in store, but all I can control is trying to play well and force their hand."
- Rick DiPietro, in Katie Strang's article in Newsday, 09/04/08
I don't know about you, but I am disturbed by that mindset. That is a mindset of a "me first" attitude. If anyone has ever managed people, the last thing you want to hear is "I want to do it all myself". Well, not completely true. You like the intent. You want that lunch pail work ethos. But you really don't want that to happen, because you are then stuck not long after with someone who burnt out. Or who did so much, that when he was out, nobody else was able to step in. You are stuck with someone who potentially might not be able to share workload, work well with others, or be a team player.
In other words, it's good as a statement, but not in reality. What is does is seep energy from everything else to placate, handle or deal with that person, taking away from time and effort in more important and pressing priorities.
The Isles might have this problem in the goaltender position.
It was kind of nice and cute back a year or two ago, as Ricky began playing a higher level. You want your ace-in-the-hole at the goalie position to play all the time. It means he wants to be that key guy, carry the load, take on the challenge. Great stuff.
However, what it might be showing these days is a lack of maturity, understanding of being a team player, and quite frankly, inappropriate after few surgeries to fix "normal wear and tear" which is far from it.
While some have worried about his durability, especially so early into his 15-year contract, DiPietro said it's "tough calling them injuries," and that they represent normal "wear and tear" more than anything.
- More from Strang's article in Newsday
Sorry, not buying it, Rick.
Fact is, that there have been complaints seeping out of Long Island even before this summer's antics between Snow, Nolan and that upheaval, on the hand-holding and issues in dealing with what might be Long Island's goalie "diva". That he is given much slack because he has a strong relationship with the owner. A dangerous cocktail to someone who played too many games, had to do too much in lieu of an off-kilter defense, and is considered a leading element.
GM Garth Snow has not helped one bit. Dubie, the capable backup, was not an apple in Snow's eyes. The offer given was a slap in Wade's face, and he let it be known. Instead, as backup, is untested Joey McDonald, last season's second best at Bridgeport.
This is not giving me a warm and fuzzy. How bout you?
Back in the day, Long Island had another goalie diva, legend Billy Smith. The most games Billy Smith played per a season? 58, and that was in the 74-75 campaign.
The Rick has played in the last three seasons . . .
63, 62, 63, respectively
Ok, but we can also put it in perspective, because Martin Brodeur averages over 70 per year, if not the upper 70s. But, also, Marty is an aberration and also one of the greatest at his position.
Another goalie great: Patrick Roy, about 60s on the average.
Luongo, you ask? He averages in the 70s. He and his team lost steam late last season. But Luongo's body seems to hold up.
Mike Richter? Averages from 70s to 60s and then 40s and 50s. You see, Mike broke down from playing too much.
Fact is, every goalie is different. The reason DP keeps being in the 60's lately, however, is due to "normal wear and tear". Sure, a concussion took him out two years back. But that summer, he required surgery to clean things up. Last year, everyone knew he was carrying an injury, except for those who mattered, evidently, and he was done early as well.
The issue is not even total games, but even games in a row. DP plays too much. His body, thus far, has said so. Doesn't matter that he WANTS to play every game. I want a million dollars, and be full-time and paid writer (looks around waiting for angels to sing). Yes, exactly. Not happening.
Rick should not be playing every game. He is no longer some kid looking up and trying to show those he can play. He can play. He needs to cultivate a mature mindset that understands limitations, realities and what the team NEEDS. They need him healthy. Period. They need a mature steady man in goal. Period.
One thing can be said, however. In Katie Strang's article on DP, he did cite it would Gordon's choice. He nodded to the professional hierarchy. It will be Gordo's choice. Right?
Ask Ted. Because those around Teddy note a different take on the coaches ability to tell a goalie what to do, and what is best.
Personally, I want DP to be the best. I want him to win every game. I want him to play as many as he can. I also want a capable backup who gets enough time to stay sharp. Both seasons, Wade required start-up time because the creak of rust was louder than the insipid <i>You Suck</i> chant. That simply does not, and will not work. Any manager or boss will tell you this. That these kind of situation in the real world are real issues, and something that needs to be solved.
Am I reading too far into his statement? Might I be overreacting? Could be. That does not change the last two years, nor issues that I've heard from those around the team. There is a high cost to any mistakes in handling and the health of Rick DiPietro.
That cost can be catastrophic for Long Island. For LI could face a black hole in goal. Without a healthy Rick, all is lost. The rebuild. The longterm, besides the short term, would be eradicated faster than a flying proton into a cup of Swiss Miss.
Long Island has their goalie, and he is locked in for a long time. It is imperative that the team handle him in a manner that is best for himself and the team. Part 1 should be eradicating unrealistic mindsets.