When GMs construct teams, do they ever consider the psychological makeup of their players? In yesterday’s Post, Larry Brooks brought up the issues of if the Islanders rushed goalie Rick DiPietro back or if DiPietro downplayed his symptoms in order to keep playing. There are a few other factors behind all of this, though. One is that a goalie is on the ice just about the whole game, so when a starting goalie goes down, it’s a big thing. Realistically, scoring can be replaced or defense ratcheted up, but if the goalie isn’t there, and there’s no one to step into the void, what can a team do?
Which brings up the second factor: the depth chart. If you have a capable backup/second goalie, it’s a lot easier to come out and try and preserve your career. No one wants to risk losing a starting job, but most goalies are probably just as reluctant to risk their health. But if no one is in back of you, as is the case out on the Island, with the erratic Mike Dunham backing DiPietro, if you want to push your team into the playoffs, you really have no choice but to ignore symptoms.
This sort of situation was almost inevitable with DiPietro, just as it is with Martin Brodeur. When an organization rides a single goalie, they force the goalie to make bad decisions that can turn out to be career-ending. Imagine Jocelyn Thibault’s career if he had had any kind of backup in Chicago. Maybe he wouldn’t have constantly have been rushing back.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, athletes are competitive by nature. GMs need to understand that and make it as painless as possible for them to disclose injuries and to feel that if they do have to miss some time, a team’s playoff chances won’t be derailed.
I don’t think that was the vibe out on the Island. I hope Brodeur, whose backup is actually a rotating trio of season ticket holders, is watching and learning from all of this.
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