Isles owner ought to be after making DiPietro deal
Posted: Tuesday September 12, 2006 5:45PM; Updated: Tuesday September 12, 2006 6:28PM
Together forever: Charles Wang's irresistible force (cash) has made Rick DiPietro an immovable object.
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The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. After demonstrating his long-term commitment to goaltender Rick DiPietro today, there might be enough evidence to finally commit whacked-out Islanders owner Charles Wang.
It had to be some form of mental instability, or perhaps the ability to see a future where old and underperforming goalies are in high demand, that led Wang to sign DiPietro to that 15-year, $67.5 million deal. After all, it's not like Wang hasn't had personal experience with the deleterious effects of handing an absurd long-term deal to a cipher of a player. Surely he's noticed Alexei Yashin idly filling a sweater on game nights in between giggle-filled trips to the bank ever since Wang signed him to that 10-year, $87.5 million deal in 2001.
Of course, laughter's a pretty common theme lately around the Islanders. Their front office follies are almost enough to make you wonder if DiPietro is the crazy one for tying himself down to this sideshow for the rest of his career.
Just for grins, let's give Wang the benefit of the doubt. I suppose if you take a step back from the brobdingnagian totals and look at the numbers on a yearly basis, the $4.5 million cap hit for a number-one goalie isn't that outlandish. In fact, DiPietro now ranks eighth on the 2006-07 earning list. Chances are he'll drop a notch or two in the coming years as other young starters get their payday.
That would make this a reasonable deal . . . if you really like DiPietro and the term were four or five years. But we're talking about 15 years. No one, not even Wang himself, has any idea what he's getting himself into in terms of the game's future salary environment.
One thing we do know is that most goalies, especially athletic types like DiPietro, start to wind down in their mid-30s. Unless he starts channeling the ghost of Terry Sawchuk, he'll end up being the league's most expensive backup during the latter third of the deal.
And it's not like his play to this point has made anyone forget the great Mark Fitzpatrick. So, someone please explain how a guy with exactly zero skins on the wall earns this kind of cake?
Even during a summer in which several young players inked contracts based on potential, there was an element of what-have-you-done-lately that powered each of them. So what did DiPietro accomplish during the one-year, $2.5 million deal he signed last summer? He ranked 15th in wins (30), trailing such puck-stopping stalwarts such as Alex Auld and Mathieu Garon. DiPietro's GAA (3.02) was good for 32nd, or nearly half-a-goal worse than what rookie Curtis Sanford put up playing behind the league's worst team in St. Louis.
And that .900 save percentage? It ranked 26th overall, well behind the standards set by backups such as Brent Johnson and Pascal Leclaire. And that doesn't take into account DiPietro's lone career playoff victory -- not one playoff series, one playoff game.