UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) - The New York Islanders say they are aware of goalie Rick DiPietro's comments about depression and suicide, and plan to handle the matter internally.
DiPietro, placed on waivers and then sent to the minors last week, said in an interview with News 12 Long Island that he has fought depression and pondered suicide because of his history of injuries, the weight of a giant contract and the team's constant losing.
The 31-year-old goalie later told reporters his comments about suicide shouldn't be taken literally because he simply intended to credit the support of his wife during his trying time with the Islanders.
DiPietro said his rash of injuries the past several seasons plus taunting from fans pushed him to consider driving himself ``into a tree.'' He also told the television station that being waived last week felt like the Islanders had ``ripped my heart out, stabbed it, set it on fire and flushed it down the toilet.''
``We are aware of Rick's comments today and the severity of them,'' Islanders general manager Garth Snow said in a statement Thursday. ``We will handle them internally as we do with all player matters. This is an opportunity for Rick to play lots of games in Bridgeport.''
DiPietro has struggled over the past five seasons. The top overall pick of the 2000 NHL entry draft signed a 15-year, $67.5 million deal in September 2006. He will have eight years and $36 million remaining on the contract after this season.
The Islanders could seek a buyout for DiPietro's contract this summer.
DiPietro has played only 50 games since the end of 2007-08, including three losses this season. He has missed significant time with hip and knee injuries. Last season, he was limited to eight games due to a concussion and a groin injury that required surgery.
DiPietro has yet to play for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League since he was sent down last Saturday. He last played for the Islanders in a 3-1 loss at Ottawa on Feb. 19.