INDIAN TRAIL, N.C. -- Rick DiPietro was at his engaging best.
He required a volunteer to illustrate his point about how new, shorter pads will put additional strain on the groin muscles of butterfly-style goalies and explain a rash of goalie injuries. An employee of the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League, the team with which the No. 1 pick in the 2000 NHL Draft and former franchise goalie for the New York Islanders is currently on a tryout with, was pressed into service.
"Do it for me a second, go down on your knees," instructed DiPietro, standing in the locker room of the Checkers' practice facility. "Flare your feet out like you're in a butterfly. So my legs are flatter like this. These pads used to be 37 [inches] now they're 33 so there's four inches [less] almost, OK?
"Now for me to get these closed where I don't have a five-hole anymore, I've got to pull my knees all the way together like this. Now pull your knees together and try to sit back and feel the … strain on your groin. … It's almost natural that something bad's going to happen."
It was DiPietro in a microcosm: Even in the minor leagues the charisma showed through, but it did so in a discussion of injuries, which have derailed his career.
"As a goalie," he said, "none of what we do is meant to be done with the joints of a human being."