Free from his 15-year, $67.5 million contract after a buyout from the New York Islanders, Rick DiPietro found no suitors over the summer and ended up latching on with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL a month ago.
The farm club of the Carolina Hurricanes saw their goaltending depth take a hit with injuries, so DiPietro was brought in on a tryout. Things didn't go so well for the 32-year old netminder.
In five games with the Checkers, DiPietro posted a 5.18 goals against average and .846 save-percentage. On Tuesday, he was released from his tryout agreement.
“He called Jim Rutherford last night and thanked him for the opportunity,” said [GM Jeff] Daniels. “He just didn’t think it was going to go anywhere.
“I talked to him last week and said right now we have three goalies here and we’re waiting for one of them to step up and be the guy. The opportunity was there for him to do that, but he didn’t feel that it was going to go his way.”
Upon watching him in person recently, Hurricanes general manager (and former NHL goaltender) Jim Rutherford told the New York Times, “He doesn’t have his confidence now. That position, more than any other position in hockey, it’s important to have your confidence, and so he’s probably thinking too much while the game’s on, which isn’t a good thing.”
DiPietro was brought in as organizational insurance when Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin were out injured. Justin Peters handled his workload during their absence and now with Ward back in the lineup, there's no more room on the depth chart for someone on a tryout, especially one who hasn't been too impressive when he's been given the opportunity.
But the Hurricanes were likely never the end goal here for DiPietro. The chance with the Checkers was an opportunity to both showcase his health and ability for another team elsehwere. Is it the end of the road for DiPietro, at least on this side of the Atlantic? Not in his mind, as he told the Times.
"I said it to my wife the other day: I’d rather someone just tell me when the time is. I know it’s tough to make that decision on your own.”
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