Rick DiPietro will not be playing professional hockey anymore, barring a dramatic medical advance.
As he put it, “Unless they develop some kind of bionic leg that I can get put on and try to get back on the ice.”
But at 33, the former Islanders goaltender appears to have found his post-NHL calling, something he “stumbled into” and as recently as Labor Day week 2014 was still little more than a lark.
Now it’s real, this Labor Day week more than ever.
After a year working mostly nights for ESPN New York radio, the team of DiPietro and Alan Hahn began Tuesday as the station’s regular midday team from noon to 3 p.m.
“I can’t believe that in a year this all would happen so quickly,” DiPietro said Thursday as he and Hahn carpooled into Manhattan from their Long Island homes.
“Alan joked [last year] every time we did a show, we’ll be here tomorrow, and we’re going to keep doing this until they tell us to stop.”
They never did, and now here “Hahn and Humpty” are, the first local voices heard on the station weekdays after six hours of national programming.
“It’s always nice to get the first word in on what’s happening in New York,” said DiPietro, whose “Humpty” moniker refers to his oft-broken body. (His Twitter handle is @HDumpty39.)
This all began on Aug. 11, 2014, when DiPietro joined Hahn and Brian Custer for a summer fill-in shift. Two nights later, Hahn was to work alone but invited DiPietro to come along.
The two had gotten to know one another during Hahn’s days covering the Islanders for Newsday. Hahn now is a Knicks studio analyst for MSG Network.
When Newsday first featured the duo on Sept. 5, 2014, they still had no idea how long their makeshift show would go on. By the end of the month they were the regular night-time team.
“I think it just goes back to the fact that Alan and I are really close friends,” DiPietro said. “You can’t fake that kind of chemistry and we both love sports so I think that just kind of translates over the airwaves.”
DiPietro didn’t necessarily need the money from a new job. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 draft, 2006 Olympian and 2008 NHL All-Star signed a 15-year, $67.5-million deal with the Islanders that the team bought out in 2013.
But he certainly needed something to do, and he found a calling in a format that utilizes his quick wit, broad range of sports knowledge and athlete’s perspective. (One New York radio oddity: He hasn’t lost his Boston-area accent.)
“It’s a scary world and at my age, at only 33 and not able to play hockey anymore, it’s like, what do I do with my life?” he said. “You’re used to making a certain amount of money and doing a certain amount of work and you get to the real world and it’s ‘Where are you going to make that money?’ You’re not.
“You have to find something you love doing. Luckily for me, Alan dragged me out of the house and brought me in the radio studio with him and I couldn’t be happier with how it’s turned out so far.”
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