Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Welcome to Goaliegate

The conspiracy theorists are out in force surrounding Rick DiPietro, Scott Gordon and Joey MacDonald, wondering what DiPietro's true condition is, and why he wasn't inserted into the game Monday after Buffalo jumped out to a 5-0 lead in a 7-1 embarrassment at home.

(Note to the kids who were there -- that was NOT Islanders hockey, at least we hope not. Please don't try that at home.)

Newsday's Greg Logan wrote: "This was a case of chickens coming home to roost. DiPietro wasn't healthy enough to start the first three games of the season, but he was deemed healthy enough to be the backup.

Don't try to look for the logic here. There isn't any, which probably is why Gordon pulled a Sarah Palin, ignoring a question he didn't like and changing the subject when he was asked directly if DiPietro's readiness was a factor."

Gordon later said: "I'm not a strong believer in pulling goalies to change momentum. I want our goalies to not get the feeling that, if things don't go right for them, they can look to the bench and look over their shoulder, thinking, 'When am I coming out?' I want them to find a way to battle.

"Ask any of the goalies that have played for me. It's been the same thing. I've been through that, and I know what it's like when your coach has a quick hook ... We might have suffered a little bit tonight, but Joey will know when he's in this situation, it's his battle."

I have no problem keeping a goalie in when there is a rout on. If that really has been Gordon's philosophy all along, and he is a former netminder himself, I'll take him at his word.

And if DiPietro is not 100 percent, which he clearly is not, and is only on the bench in case of emergency -- and Gordon doesn't think a 5-0 lead qualifies as one -- then I can see why they would not want to put DiPietro into a losing cause and risk injury just by being on the ice, since anything can happen; better to just leave him out.

But it's hard to see what the Islanders have to gain by having DiPietro on the bench at all. If he's out, he's out. If he's on the bench, he may as well be in street clothes. What's the harm in having Yann Danis back up MacDonald for a week or so while D.P. gets in game shape? And if his injury is worse than they are letting on, then this is truly a ridiculous charade.

Based on the team's actions, you would assume DiPietro would be ready to play at a moment's notice, and if MacDonald was knocked out in the crease, DiPietro would be able to come in and play the rest of the game without risk of injuring himself any further.

You would think.

Hopefully, that is really the case and this is all much ado about nothing, and is a situation that has only been exacerbated by the NHL's policy of saying virtually nothing about injuries, which is a terrible policy to begin with. The Isles, like every other team, are behaving like a gang of Belichicks because they have been allowed to by the league, so they're just playing by the rules they've been given.

Reporters, bloggers and fans may not like it, but hey -- we just help pay the bills. Who are we to judge?

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