Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Curious Case of Rick DiPietro and the Smoke and Mirrors of Injury Reporting

So now that the NHL has no rules on injuries, the lines haven't become blurred -- they have disappeared altogether. It's a magical world of speculation and assumptions out there now. Teams are trying to keep injuries a total secret and some of them are not doing a very good job of it.

In the case of Islanders' netminder Rick DiPietro there is the following evidence:

Exhibit A: Friday night, TSN reported the following: "The New York Islanders received some unwanted news just one game into the new season as the team learned that goaltender Rick DiPietro has swelling and fluid around his surgically repaired left knee."

Exhibit B: From "DiPietro denied the report from TSN today that he had swelling around his knee. “That story was completely untrue,” said DiPietro. “I don’t know where they got it from.” The goalie said if his knee was in bad shape, he would not have been in the lineup tonight."

So where does this get us? Nowhere. It's a typical case of 'they said, he said'. All we get to do now is make assumptions. Fun times, huh?

Fans like us (or probably only me, in this case) are left out in the middle of the ocean. It's hard to believe TSN when the team vehemently denies the report, despite the credibility of the source. But it's hard to believe the organization when you see the action taken. Actions speak louder than words, and Saturday night they showed us that DiPietro is not 100%.

The actions of the organization just do not jive with what should happen if DiPietro is feeling well enough to play. Case and point; backup Joey Macdonald started on back-to-back nights, including the home opener. If we assume that DiPietro is fine and dandy, there are a few things that do not happen.

  1. You do not start Joey Mac two nights in a row. No way. No how. Only exception being if he is supposed to be the next Brodeur, and from all accounts, he isn't.
  2. On top of that, you don't start Joey Mac on the second night of the back-to-back if that second night is the HOME OPENER. The Coliseum was sold out last night and DP is your biggest on-ice marketing tool. You have to showcase your star, especially with expectations being as low as they possibly can be coming into the season.
All of that points to DP not being ready to go, and for the organization to say otherwise, well, it doesn't look good.

However, there is another explanation. The team could be unbelievably cautious with their biggest asset. That makes sense, right? Not really. It still doesn't jive. If you don't want to risk playing him, why was he on the bench last night? If you're that afraid of putting him on the ice, he should not be the #2 option. DP should be up in the press box, as far away from action as possible. Yan Dannis should be called up front Bridgeport to backup Macdonald. So they're saying that DP isn't ready to start a game, but if Macdonald were to get hurt in the first period, DP could go the rest of the way? Yeah... Riiiiight...

But really, the Islanders are not to blame for all of this confusion. They're just doing what's in the team's best interest (I sure hope so, at least). The real culprit to blame is the NHL. While NFL teams put out detailed reports about the players on IR each week, NHL teams are required to do nothing but play a shell game with their fans. Yet again, the buffoonery of Bettman and the owners shines through. You're trying to protect the players -- even though you really are not, something that I won't get into right now -- but all you do instead is further alienate a frustrated fanbase. But it's OK. We're used to it. All the fans that aren't are tuning out the NHL and watching football or the MLB Playoffs right now instead.


  1. Islanders Point Blank is an extension of the marketing arm of the franchise, paid for by the franchise and ran by the team's former PR maven Chris Botta. You can't believe a word he reports.

  2. He was actually just reporting that he had talked to DP and DP denied the TSN report... Botta didn't really have much of a role here, at least in the part I quoted him from.