UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Goaltender Rick DiPietro will miss the rest of the New York Islanders season because of hip surgery.
The operation was scheduled for Wednesday in Vail, Colo. DiPietro is finishing the second season of a landmark 15-year contract. This marks the second straight year that the team's 26-year-old goalie has needed hip surgery. The left one was operated on after last season's playoffs; now the right one needs repair.
DiPietro was injured during the all-star skills competition in January and has played through the pain since. The Islanders said he is expected to make a full recovery in time for next season's training camp.
"Rick wanted badly to be with his team until the end of the season, but this decision was made with his best long-term interests in mind," Islanders general manager Garth Snow said in a statement. "Rick took his game to even greater heights this season, deservedly being named a National Hockey League all-star for the first time in his career.
"He gave everything he had to the Islanders and our fans this season and was a warrior all the way through. By having the surgery immediately, Rick will have plenty of time to be at 100 per cent long before the start of Islanders training camp in September."
Just like last year's operation, the procedure will be performed by hip specialist Dr. Marc Philippon. He recently operated on DiPietro's teammate Mike Sillinger as well as Snow, a former NHL goalie.
The decision for DiPietro to have surgery was made after he had an MRI exam on Tuesday. Wade Dubielewicz made the start for the Islanders that night and took the 3-1 loss against Toronto. New York has only eight games left and is a longshot to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
DiPietro is 26-28-7 in 63 games this season with a 2.82 goals-against average, a .902 save percentage and three shutouts.
He was injured during a breakaway drill when he tried to stop Minnesota's Marian Gaborik. DiPietro played in the all-star game the following day, but has struggled since.
DiPietro, who has also dealt with concussions that sidelined him for the Islanders' playoff drive in the final week of last season, is 7-12 with a 3.38 GAA in 19 starts since the all-star break.
In his final eight starts of the season, DiPietro went 1-7 and allowed at least three goals in every outing. He was touched for four goals five times, including an appearance last week in which Tampa Bay scored eight on 44 shots.