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DiPietro sad to be leaving improving Islanders

Wednesday, 07.03.2013 / 10:27 PM / NHL Free Agency 2013

NHL.com

Rick DiPietro and the New York Islanders each are healthier than they've been in a while. That's one reason DiPietro is so disappointed the Islanders used one of their compliance buyouts on him.

"It's disappointing, obviously," DiPietro told Newsday on Wednesday, hours after the buyout became official. "You know in the salary-cap era after the lockout, it would take a while for some teams to rebuild. The Islanders have obviously gotten to the point where you're finally starting to see that come to fruition. The most disappointing part is that I'm not going to be a part of it."

The Islanders qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2012-13, the first time they made it to the postseason in six years. But they did it without DiPietro; the oft-injured goaltender went 0-3-0 before being placed on waivers and finishing the season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League.

He said the time in Bridgeport was good for him.

"I got to work on getting better as a goalie and getting into a rhythm of playing a ton of games instead of just trying not to get hurt," he told Newsday. "It helped me."

Injuries have decimated the career of DiPietro, the first player taken in the 2000 NHL Draft and the face of the franchise after he signed a 15-year, $67.5 million contract prior to the 2006-07 season. The Islanders will pay $24 million ($1.5 million per year through 2028-29) to buy out that deal.

At 31 years old, and with 50 NHL appearances in the past five seasons, he's looking for a job after the only team he'd ever played for paid him to go away.

"It's bittersweet, really," DiPietro said. "It was a great 13 years, I had a ton of fun, there were some great times and some bad ones. I can't say enough about how much I appreciate everything [owner] Charles [Wang] and the organization did for me. I'll miss it a lot."

I didn't think it would actually work, but it ended up working, so I'm thanking my lucky stars tonight.

— Columbus forward Nick Foligno on scoring the overtime goal after telling the Blue Jackets in the locker room that he would win the game