Rick DiPietro, ladies and gentlemen. Yes, that Rick DiPietro.
He's the guy only true puckheads know about, a promising goaltender on America's Feelgood Franchise, the New York Islanders. The Islanders are AFF because, well, they make everyone else's dysfunctions seem downright Cleaveresque.
|Publicity stunt or not, 15 years is a long time for the Isles' Rick DiPietro to be an unhappy millionaire. (Getty Images)|
And now, DiPietro has signed, and we are not joking here, a 15-year contract with the Islanders, one which would take him to his 40th birthday and through the 2021 season. The cost is a relatively paltry $67.5 million, and if someday the league's biggest brain boxes figure out how to liberate the sport from its current sub-cult status, it may turn out to be a real bargain.
On the other hand, it seems pretty silly to sign a guy for 15 years, especially in a volatile business like goaltending.
See, DiPietro is playing on a bad team, and bad teams chew up, spit out and trod on good goaltenders. He is also playing on a team that just signed his backup, Garth Snow, to be the team's general manager, and which is owned by the apparently batty Charles Wang -– short on money, stuck in an old building with no alternative cities begging him to relocate, and almost impervious to the instinct of hiring good people and leaving them to do their jobs.
In other words, the most likely to be relocated offshore has just locked up its goaltender for nearly forever. Other than the grandstanding benefits, it is hard to see how this makes even a lick of sense.
The longest contract ever was the 25-year deal the Lakers gave Magic Johnson, but given the results, nobody seems to begrudge him that kind of mega-security.
DiPietro, on the other hand, is signing a deal that, assuming it doesn't have a lot of opt-outs, buyouts and get-outs (and his agent would be insane to allow any), literally makes him untradeable, and it also takes him off a market that could beckon him to better climes.
It ties his hands, and theirs, because nobody is going to want to, say, trade down the road for a 33-year-old goalie WITH SEVEN MORE YEARS ON HIS CONTRACT!
Clearly, DiPietro is satisfied for the moment, otherwise he wouldn't be signing it. And the Islanders will take any stability they can get. Thus, today, it's a great deal, and everyone will be all smiles and lollipops and full of tortuous old Canadian hockey songs like I Want To Drive The Zamboni.
But three, or five, or eight, or 12 years from now, you can be relatively sure that either one side or the other is going to say, "What in the name of Ken Dryden's pet poodle were we thinking?"
Rick DiPietro, you see, is a fine goalie (not the best, but in the discussion), but he ain't no Magic Johnson.