Rick DiPietro’s post-practice comments at bottom
11:50 am, Iceworks – Good day, everyone. No, this is not a momentous day. But I’m here, so I figured what the heck.
11:54 – Rob Schremp takes the ice, followed by Tim Jackman. Although the word last night from the Islanders was that only scratches from the Toronto game would practice today, that’s not going to be the case.
11:56 – Rick DiPietro emerges from the locker room. He is wearing white pads and a blue practice jersey. His first step on the ice is with his right foot. (Just play along with me, Country. I already used my walk-on-water line with John Tavares. And besides, the way Dwayne Roloson played last night, there is no need for DiPietro to be a savior).
12:01 pm – Assistant coach Scott Allen is running this optional on-ice workout. Head coach Scott Gordon is in his coach’s office at Iceworks. Allen takes the ice. Goalie coach Mike Dunham joins him.
12:03 – Allen meets with the group at center ice and goes over the goals of the practice. I’m not too far away, but I did not hear Allen tell the troops to deke DiPietro into Cirque de Soleil contortions.
12:05 – In a two-minute drill, Schremp takes the first shot on DiPietro. OMG it was the greatest friggin’ save I have ever seen in…nah, he just blockers a wrister.
12:07 – The practice lineup: Schremp, Jackman, Jon Sim, Blake Comeau, Jeff Tambellini and Josh (50% From the Floor in his last three games) Bailey.
12:10 – Allen has the boys take the puck at the blue line, do a pair of spins and then fire a wrister from about 20 feet. DiPietro handles the ones on goal with ease. He appears to be comfortable.
12:12 – I would have bet the ranch on this one: Tambellini beats DiPietro with his trademark wrister just inside the post.
12:14 – The goalie lets out his first loud profanity of the afternoon after Tambellini beats him again.
12:16 – When Comeau scores, DiPietro voices his first soft profanity of the afternoon, this time adding an adverb.
12:25 – Contrary to what many readers have said Howie Rose has mentioned on TV – didn’t see it and know know if he did – DiPietro has not changed his goaltending style at all. End of that story.
12:27 – Scott Gordon leaves his office for five minutes to observe DiPietro. “Looks good,” he says.
12:28 – The drills continue. One player makes a pass to the blueline, skates to the net for screen or deflection.
12:32 – DiPietro continues to handle the workload with no visible discomfort. He is also focused and serious. No clowning around.
12:34 – A little half-court 2-on-1. The goalie doesn’t have much of a chance in this drill.
12:44 – The formal part of the workout is over. DiPietro skates to the blue line and stretches. Dunham comes over to chat.
12:46 – As DiPietro leaves the ice he says, “Thanks fellas.” Sim tells him, “Not bad.”
1:05 – Steve Marcus from Newsday and I just spoke with DiPietro, as captured by Islanders TV. A summary:
There is no timetable for him to start playing games for Bridgeport of the AHL. “I’m not sure,” he said, unconvincingly.
He will not set a date for an NHL return. “I’m done putting down markers,” he said.
The Islanders’ lack of practices is not ideal, but he’ll get in the work whenever he can – including at Wednesday’s morning skate at the Coliseum.
DiPietro is not changing his style in his comeback. “I’ve always incorporated a little stand-up in my play,” he said. “I’m not changing anything.”
He is playing at 100%, with no restrictions in his movements.
He has gained perspective: “You realize how lucky you are to be a pro athlete when it’s taken away from you.”
DiPietro feels bad that he’s been out of the lineup for so long, but is determined to come back and win a Stanley Cup with the Islanders. “The expectations I put on myself are a lot more than anyone else could put on me,” he said. “Luckily for me, I have twelve years left to rectify the situation.This is where I want to be and I’m doing everything I can to improve and help this team get better. I know I haven’t been able to do that. I realize that and I’m sorry I’ve been hurt. I realize that and I’m sorry for that. It’s something you can’t control. I made a commitment to Charles and Long Island and I look forward to helping our team win for a long time.”
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