Islanders Sign DiPietro to 15-Year Deal
Tuesday, September 12th 2006, 10:30 am
News On 6
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) _ Rick DiPietro re-signed with the New York Islanders on Tuesday, agreeing to a deal that reportedly will pay the No. 1 goalie $67.5 million over a record 15 years.
The Islanders scheduled an afternoon news conference to officially announce the contract that would keep DiPietro in the fold until 2022 when he would be 40.
The deal, first reported by Newsday, would be the longest in NHL history, topping the 10-year, $87.5 million contract the Islanders gave enigmatic center Alexei Yashin in 2001.
That was one of the contracts that sent NHL salaries soaring and led to the salary cap in the collective bargaining agreement that ended the lockout last year. It also saddled New York with a player that is nearly impossible to move and who takes up a big chunk of the team's $44 million maximum payroll.
DiPietro's deal is believed to be second only in length in North American sports to the 25-year pact Magic Johnson signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1981.
DiPietro was a restricted free agent this summer and couldn't be unrestricted for another two years. The reported deal would pay him $4.5 million per season, placing him eighth among goalies.
The top pick in the 2000 draft was 30-24-5 with a 3.02 goals-against average in 63 games last season with the Islanders, who missed the playoffs after three straight appearances.
It is the second big contract handed out to a goalie in two days as Nashville re-signed Tomas Vokoun to a four-year extension on Monday that will pay him $22.8 million.
Chicago's Nikolai Khabibulin will be the league's highest-paid goalie this season at $6.75 million.
DiPietro and Islanders owner Charles Wang discussed a 15-year deal last summer after the NHL lockout when DiPietro expressed that he wanted to spend his entire career on Long Island.
But hurdles regarding insurance over the course of the contract killed those plans, and DiPietro agreed to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million.
Both sides were pressed to come to a new agreement quickly as the Islanders open training camp at the end of the week in Nova Scotia. Wang has a policy that players who aren't signed in time for camp won't play during the season.
DiPietro, exactly a week away from his 25th birthday, became the first goalie ever chosen with the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft five years ago, after spending just one year at Boston University.
Although DiPietro's former backup goalie Garth Snow is now the Islanders' new general manager, this pact was undoubtedly handled by Wang _ who has created a front office by committee on Long Island.
It was this type of management structure that led to the firing of Neil Smith, who was let go just weeks after he took the job in the offseason and months before the Islanders were to play a game under him.
Smith balked at the delegation of authority and the system initiated by Wang, and was replaced by Snow _ who retired from his playing career with the Islanders _ on July 18.