DiPietro inks 15-year deal

New York Islanders rookie general manager Garth Snow shocked the hockey world Tuesday by signing goaltender Rick DiPietro to a 15-year, $67.5-million US contract.

It didn't take long for Garth Snow to conjure up memories of his predecessor, former New York Islanders general manager Mike Milbury.

Snow has topped Milbury's 10-year, $87.5-million US deal to forward Alexei Yashin in 2001, signing goaltender Rick DiPietro to a whopping 15-year, $67.5 million US pact.

"[Islanders owner] Charles Wang is trying to show he's committed to a building project, and DiPietro showed he's committed to the team and wants to be on Long Island," an NHL executive told the newspaper.

The contract is believed to be the longest in NHL history and second only in major North American pro sports to the 25-year, $25-million US contract Magic Johnson signed with the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers in 1981.

"Clubs are free to make their own decisions within the confines laid out in the collective bargaining agreement and other applicable league rules," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Canadian Press. "Some decisions turn out well, others not so well.

"Time will tell whether this will be a good decision or a bad one for the Islanders."

DiPietro, a restricted free agent, will receive $4.5 million US in each season of the deal, which would rank the 24-year-old eighth among NHL goalies for the 2006-07 campaign.

Nikolai Khabibulin of the Chicago Blackhawks is currently the league's highest-paid netminder at $6.75 million US a year.

DiPietro's contract would leave the Islanders $2 million under the NHL's current salary cap of $44 million US, Newsday reported.

DiPietro is guaranteed the full $67.5 million USif he suffers a career-ending injury. However, it's unclear what would happen if the five-foot-11 puckstopper were to retire before the deal expires.

DiPietro compiled a record of 30-24-5 with a 3.02 goals-against average and .900 save percentage in 63 games last season, his fourth in New York.

He had discussed a 15-year deal last summer with Wang after the NHL lockout when DiPietro expressed he wanted to spend his entire playing career on Long Island.

Butobstacles regarding insurance over the course of the contract nixed a deal at the time, and DiPietrosigned for one yearand $2.5 million US.

Both sides faced a deadlinelater this week when the Islanders open training camp in Halifax. Wang has a policy that players whoaren't under contract at that timewon't play during the season.

In 2000, DiPietro became the first-ever goalie chosen with the No. 1 pick, after spending just one year at Boston University.

With files from the Canadian Press