9/12/2006 5:15:43 PM
The New York Islanders have signed goalie Rick DiPietro to a 15-year, $67.5 million contract. The deal will pay DiPietro $4.5 million annually.
''In all of our discussions with Rick, he made it clear that he wanted to be an Islander for the rest of his career,'' said Islanders general manager Garth Snow. ''But it was of equal importance to Rick that we work out a deal that would allow us to continue to build a Stanley Cup contender for years to come. This deal is great news for our franchise and our fans.''
''I'm extremely appreciative of the commitment (Islanders owner) Charles Wang and Garth have made to me,'' said DiPietro.
Islanders' owner Charles Wang, who was directly involved in the negotiations, had indicated that if DiPietro didn't sign by Friday, when the team opens training camp in Nova Scotia, that DiPietro would not play in the 2006-07 season.
''Rick's made no secret for a long time that he wanted to be an Islander his whole career,'' DiPietro's agent Paul Krepelka told The Associated Press..
DiPietro, who turns 25 next week, is a restricted free agent who could become unrestricted in two more seasons.
Last season, DiPietro went 30-24-5 with a 3.02 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage.
The deal is believed to be the second longest in NHL history, only topped by the 21-year deal Wayne Gretzky signed with the Edmonton Oilers in 1979. The longest deal in major North American pro sports is the $25-million, 25-year deal Magic Johnson signed with the NBA Lakers in 1981. The Islanders also signed Alexei Yashin to an $87.5 million, 10-year contract in 2001.
''Clubs are free to make their own decsions within the confines laid out in the collective bargaining agreement and other applicable league rules,'' NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Canadian Press. ''Some decisions turn out well, others not so well. Time will tell whether this will be a good decision or a bad one for the Islanders.''
DiPietro is scheduled to receive $4.5 million in each season of the contract. With the value of the deal spread over the length of the contract, DiPietro's salary would rank eighth among NHL goaltenders for the coming season.
Chicago's Nikolai Khabibulin is currently the league's highest-paid goaltender at $6.75 million a year.
New York Newsday reports DiPietro is guaranteed the full $67.5 million if he suffers a career-ending injury, but it's not yet clear what would happen if he were to retire before the deal expires. The Islanders only have insurance on the first six years of the deal. If DiPietro is healthy at the end of that six-year term, they can purchase another six years of insurance.
Meanwhile, the New York Post reports that the Islanders have also signed center Viktor Kozlov to a one-year deal.
I think it's outrageous, a 15 year deal!?!? This is pro sports, this contract takes DiPietro to his 40th birthday.
This is why you don't have former back-up goalies like Garth Snow jump right into the GM's desk.