Rick DiPietro will be playing in net for a professional hockey team for the first time in over a year this coming Saturday for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. All I have to say is ...FINALLY!
It's been a long time since Isles fans have seen Ricky on the ice in game action. Since his absence began, Joey MacDonald, Yann Danis, and the newly acquired pair of Dwayne Roloson and Martin Biron have played net in an Islanders sweater. Although Roloson has been a relief in goal this season, DP's goaltending has been greatly missed.
However, everyone should be prepared for this long and steady comeback to continue through the same fashion even once he makes his official Islander return. I would be shocked if the coaching staff decided to throw Ricky to the wolves and give him several games up front. Being that Roloson and Biron have almost gone every other game, I would not be surprised if Gordon continues with that rotation when DP comes back. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if DP plays as Roloson's back-up for the first two weeks assuming Biron gets traded once Ricky shows he is back on track.
Remember, so far this healing process has been very gradual. They made a mistake in rushing him back before, and it cost their franchise goaltender more than an NHL season. Do NOT expect management to make the same mistake with their 15-year investment.
The fact that the Isles drafted two goaltenders with their first picks of the 2nd and 3rd rounds was a clear statement that they are not taking DiPietro's future playing career lightly. And they didn't draft goaltenders that are going to be slouches in the NHL. Koskinen in particular, (who happens to be nursing an injury of his own), is expected to be a number-1 calibre goaltender. He may be a future trade asset, reliable 1-A back-up, or if things get worse for Ricky, our next starting goaltender.
Of course, this team has always been "Rick's" team. That's why he would play the first 33 out of 35 games in a season to see Dubie play and let up four goals in the first period. I seriously hope that this amount of lost playing time will make him as well as the rest of the team realize that he needs to listen to the coaching staff when they tell him he's not going to play. This is Rick DiPietro, not Martin Brodeur.
This franchise cannot take anymore serious setbacks or abuse to it's main center-piece. Think about it...Rick DiPietro, one of the most athletic goaltenders in the league playing behind a future set of Calvin de Haan, Travis Hamonic, Josh Bailey, Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo and John Tavares. The future is a lot closer than fans may be willing to realize.
With all that being said, cheers to Ricky's recovery and return. If all goes well, DP will once again be the main all-star of the New York Islanders sooner rather than later.