I'm on spring break, but last night instead of doing something fun like get piss-drunk on a beach in a third-world country, I did something really depressing: I went to see the Rick DiPietro Tour of Misery firsthand.
The depressing nature of DiPietro's situation — the former top-overall pick, on a massive 15-year contract, languishing in the minor leagues — is only compounded by the fact that he's playing in Bridgeport, Conn. I can only imagine what it must have been like for him to drive to the arena yesterday, through a cold, steady rain, past the abandoned factories and warehouses that line I-95. DiPietro, the saddest story in hockey, and Bridgeport, the saddest city in Connecticut, were made for each other, it would seem.
The atmosphere inside the arena was equally dreary. The announced attendance was 4,155, which is horseshit. That would mean that the arena was half-full, which it wasn't. A liberal estimate would be about 1,500. The crowd was quiet, aside from the ten or so behind the penalty box who chanted "Let's go Tigers" for the entirety of a Bridgeport power play in the second period (they did not score).
DiPietro played pretty well last night against the Springfield Falcons. Actually, the game was a lot better than I expected. Lots of scoring chances, lots of hard hits, and eventually, an overtime game-winner for the home team. The two goals DiPietro let in weren't terrible; one came after a turnover in Bridgeport's own zone and the other on a power play.
There was a happy ending for DiPietro, though. After David Ullstrom buried the game-winner on a power play in overtime, he skated excitedly to the other end of the ice to celebrate with his teammates. Ullstrom's effort was rewarded with a call-up to NHL. DiPietro, meanwhile, will remain in Bridgeport.
Bonus: In case you're curious what a "sound tiger" looks like: