ISLANDERS INSIST RICKY'S OH-SO-FINEDespite the rumor mill, team says he'll be ready

 

Apparently, I’m the only person in New York who has not recently seen Rick DiPietro on crutches.

 

In 2009, it’s impossible for just about anyone to go unnoticed. When you’re Rick DiPietro of the New York Islanders and the U.S. Olympic Team, forget about it. It used to be everyone on Long Island knew someone who knew Bobby Nystrom. Now it seems everyone knows someone who has seen the Islanders’ franchise goalie hopping around the last few weeks.

 

The rumors reached the proverbial and hysterical next level on Sunday, when an old friend of mine came up during the ESPN Radio show on the Garden plaza. Get this: my guy told me his sister recently waited on Rick at an area steakhouse and he wasn’t on crutches, he was using a walker. My buddy was also two sheets to the wind an hour before Rangers-Capitals faceoff.

 

What’s next – Ricky using one of those scooters? DiPietro filming an updated version of “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”?

 

Hey, it’s not like the organization doesn’t understand the power of people talking on the information superhighway. The Islanders are tech-savvy, and they had a Crutchgate just last summer. They had to know that once DiPietro used those crutches, the news would reverberate all around Islanders Country.

 

I waited until the 100th eyewitness account of DiPietro hobbled like the guy in Misery before I finally called Garth Snow. Two weeks ago, blogger extraordinaire Greg Logan first reported that the goalie was spotted on crutches at a physical rehabilitation center. Over the last week emails have poured in about an Internet report that said DiPietro may be done. The Islanders have been quiet on the subject.

 

I asked Snow if he had anything to add to his statement of two weeks ago, the one that said DiPietro is going to be A-OK. I asked if DiPietro had any recent medical procedures.

 

The GM provided this on-the-record for Point Blank:

 

“I’m sure what our fans want to know is whether Rick is on schedule to be with us for the start of training camp. The answer to that is yes. The plan is for him to begin skating this summer and then be with us for the opening of camp in Saskatoon.”

 

A text to DiPietro for his confirmation of the team’s position, not surprisingly, has not been returned. Can’t really blame him.

 

Since all the rumors on the negative side have been fueled by the World Wide Web, let’s give equal time. Over the last month, I’ve run into several people “close to DiPietro.” None of them said that his 2009-10 season – let alone his career – is in jeopardy. And any problems he may be experiencing are with his knee. His hips – fixed by the same doc who worked on Alex Rodriquez – are said to be completely healed and strengthened.

 

To take this Internet noise thing to admittedly crazy lengths, I received an email from a loyal reader about a recent encounter with Mike Dunham. A staffer at a Connecticut country club, he asked the visiting Islanders goalie coach about the status of DiPietro. Dunham assured the fan that his No. 1 goaltender would be fine for the start of the season.

 

So in terms of third-hand information from the caddy shack, we’ve got that going for us…which is nice.

 

 

Coming soon: a look at goaltending possibilities for the Islanders next season. Right now, DiPietro is the only goalie under contract for ’09-10. Expect the team to sign a 1-B, plus a No. 3 for Bridgeport capable of being a No. 2. Comments. Guidelines.