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Oft-injured DiPietro done for the season

by Adam Kimelman
The injury-plagued career of New York Islanders' goaltender Rick DiPietro took another turn Tuesday when it was announced he will sit out the rest of the season to rest his chronically sore left knee.

DiPietro, who played just five games this season, has continuing issues with the lateral meniscus in his left knee. Despite two surgeries, there's been no solution for the continued swelling and discomfort DiPietro is suffering from.

"This has been one of the most frustrating situations I have ever had to deal with, but this is the right decision for me and the team," DiPietro said. "I am confident this will allow me to make a complete recovery, be ready in plenty of time for next season and compete to my highest ability for many years to come. I'd like to thank Islanders fans for their patience, and I look forward to playing in front of them next season."

The hope is that keeping DiPietro off the ice for the remainder of this season will allow his knee to recover to the point where he will be ready to go when training camp for the 2009-10 season opens in September.

Dr. Elliott Hershman, an associate team orthopedist, said DiPietro would be re-examined in about two months.

"I think the most important thing is giving the knee time to rest from on-ice activities and see when that happens where we're headed," Hershman said. "We would hope that in the next 6-8 weeks we have an indication of where Rick is as far as eliminating the swelling and discomfort he has in the knee now and then we could see what the next step is."

DiPietro had surgery on his left hip in March, ending his 2007-08 season, then had surgery in June to correct a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee. Recovery from that procedure delayed his season debut until Oct. 18. He played three games but took himself out of a game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Oct. 25, then had another arthroscopic procedure on his left knee Oct. 31 to fix what Hershman called another tear in the same meniscus. He sat out two months and returned for two games, Dec. 26 and Jan. 2, but hasn't played since.

"I think the problem is the lateral meniscus," Hershman said. "When it's damaged and has surgery on it two times, it can take quite a while for it to recover.

"I think it's sort of the way his knee has been with respect to these two surgeries and how his knee has responded to the surgery."

Hershman said the DiPietro's latest issues are not related to his prior hip problems, nor did he say DiPietro needs surgery at this time. However, he did say the meniscus issues likely are related to DiPietro's butterfly style.

"A lot of the stress on the knee in hockey goes through the lateral compartment," Hershman said. "I do think that his style of play does put some stress on that part of the knee. … I think for Ricky this is an area we want to get to heal so that he can play in his style of play. That's why we're being particularly cautious."

"This has been one of the most frustrating situations I have ever had to deal with, but this is the right decision for me and the team. I am confident this will allow me to make a complete recovery, be ready in plenty of time for next season and compete to my highest ability for many years to come." -- Rick DiPietro
Islanders General Manager Garth Snow he wasn't worried about DiPietro's latest injury setback becoming a career-jeopardizing situation — a key consideration because DiPietro has 12 seasons remaining on a 15-year deal he signed before the 2006-07 season.

"After extensive consultation we feel this decision is in the best interest for Rick and the team," Snow said. "This will allow Rick ample time to make a full recovery for next year. There has been no discussion of this being a career-threatening injury, and we expect Rick to make a full recovery."

With Joey MacDonald out for up to a month due to a groin injury, the Islanders will go with Yann Danis and Peter Mannino, who was called up from Bridgeport, the club's American Hockey League affiliate Jan. 19 and played his first NHL game this season.

 Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com.


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