Despite repeated declarations by Islanders management that Rick DiPietro would resume skating this month, SNY.tv has learned that the all-star goaltender has not begun regular on-ice workouts as of today.
Sources report that DiPietro has yet to receive clearance from the Islanders' medical staff to begin even light practicing.
More than they ever have been, the Islanders are protected for a prolonged absence by the U.S. Olympian. Over the last two months, the Islanders have signed solid NHL No. 1 goalies Dwayne Roloson and Martin Biron. Prior to the surprise deal with Biron, Scott Munroe of the American Hockey League was slotted to be Roloson's backup but will now be a regular in Bridgeport.
Nathan Lawson, a minor leaguer who gave the Sound Tigers a strong
2008-09 season, was signed last week after protracted negotiations and will now battle for starts in the AHL.
In June, the Islanders used the first picks of the second and third rounds in the NHL draft to restock their goalie depth chart. The club selected Mikko Koskinen -- 20 years old and bound for Bridgeport or the East Coast Hockey League -- and 18-year old Anders Nilsson (staying in
Sweden) when skill players at forward and defense were still available.
More than set in goal without DiPietro, the time should be near for the Islanders to be transparent with their fanbase -- and in the process lower the bar for their franchise goaltender's return date.
Sources insist that DiPietro's career is not done. At the very least, the goalie is far from done trying. His hips are stronger than ever but his oft-surgically-repaired knee the root of all problems, the goalie will hit the ice in the near future. If he attends training camp in mid-September in Saskatoon, it will likely be as much for camaraderie as it will to take part in full NHL practices. A legitimate target date for his full-scale return to stopping pucks is unclear.
Perhaps the Islanders will soon be able and willing to let everyone know. With Roloson and Biron in the fold, this is no longer a competitive issue. Fans just want to know what's up with Rick DiPietro, the talented and popular 28-year old former face of the franchise.