Jan 9, 2013, 9:37 AM EDT
Rick DiPietro played in a single professional contest in 2012 — and it was in the German second division.
Over the previous four seasons he’s played in all of 47 NHL contests due to a variety of injuries.
Still, he’s been healthy lately and practicing with Germany’s SC Riessersee.
“Physically… I feel great,” DiPietro said, according to the Sporting News.
“I’ve had such extensive surgeries, they say it takes a couple of years after that serious of surgery to actually feel back to yourself. I think a lot of the stuff was me rushing back too soon, or just having other stuff go wrong because you compensate for surgery that really hadn’t quite yet come back all the way.
“I’ve had some time off to get ready and get prepared, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Even if he stays healthy, it remains to be seen if he can still perform at the same level he was at when the New York Islanders signed him to a 15-year, $67.5 million contract. He’s struggled during the brief periods he’s been able to play over the last few years and Evgeni Nabokov is probably the better bet to start in the season opener.
All the same, DiPietro remains confident that he can get his career back on track.
“If I didn’t believe it, I wouldn’t be here,” DiPietro said. “Otherwise, it would be a waste. I’m confident with how my body feels now and my ability to be smarter. Older and smarter. I’m not stupid. You can’t have everything fixed by the doctors, which I’ve learned the hard way, and it’s a fact of life.
“I’m bright eyed, bushy tailed, and ready to rock and roll.”
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