Dipietro helmet and cage

Rick DiPietro was wearing Chris Osgood's Old Islanders Helmet and Cage. Photo thanks to Ken DeNardo, theFourthPeriod.com

The first thing that came to mind when the InGoal Magazine email inbox started filling up with questions about New York Islanders goaltender Rick Dipietro returning to action Saturday night wearing an old-school helmet and cage was why anyone with an injury history as long as his would risk further damage in a set up known for causing pressure cuts and feared by some in the NHL as a concussion risk.

The second thing that came to mind was where the heck did he find one?

As Detroit’s Chris Osgood told InGoal it’s not easy to find parts for the old Bauer SK 2000 anymore. In fact, some of Osgood’s equipment managers have resorted to eBay searches and auto body paint to refurbish his old ones, and the current set up came all the way from Russia, thanks to a long-time Red Wings masseuse with ties to the old Red Army team that wore it.

(Speaking of Russia, Hasek and old masks, check out Paul Szabo’s InGoal update on how the aging goalie likes to purposefully deflect pucks off his modernized combo-cage in the Kontinental Hockey League, and hopes to keep doing so for another season).

Turns out Dipietro’s new look actually was one of Osgood’s old masks from his time with the Islanders. And while Osgood has admitted it puts him at more risk than a modern mask – “if I take one flush with mine, it might or might not cut me, but I’m going to feel it a lot more,” he told InGoal – it also turns out Dipietro was wearing it to protect his surgically repaired face.

osgood lid

If you thought the helmet Islanders goalie Rick Dipietro wore Saturday looked like Chris Osgood's on the left, that's because it was. (InGoal photo)

Dipietro needed to have four plates and several screws surgically installed to keep everything in place after having his cheek caved in by the now infamous left hand of Pittsburgh backup Brent Johnson during an ill-advised goalie fight way back in early February. Dipietro joked about it with Newsday:

“I’m having some trouble with metal detectors these days,” he said. “I’m almost bionic at this point. Hopefully, I’ll be metal by the time I retire and we won’t have to worry about injuries anymore. Like the Tin Man, just lube me up and I’ll be ready to go.”

So what does this have to do with the old-school mask? As any good mask fitter will tell you, a modern lid should be snug at the temples and by the cheeks, and clearly Dipietro has good reason to avoid feeling the full impact of a puck in the latter area.

As for the risks, simply put the mask Dipietro is wearing now has a lot more flat spots and surface area for a flush puck impact than the smaller, more streamlined masks preferred by most of today’s goalies.

That’s why future first-ballot Hall of Fame goalie Dominik Hasek (who told reporters after being honored in Buffalo Saturday that he wanted to play one more season) had Gary Warwick make him a composite one-piece shell composed of carbon fiber, Kevlar and epoxy resin (pictured above).

It’s also the reason the Los Angeles Kings cited when they forced similarly injury prone goaltender Dan Cloutier to abandon the same helmet-and-cage set up in favor of a new-style mask because they were more worried about the risks of cuts and concussions than they were the fact Cloutier was uncomfortable and struggled to track pucks in the more modern mask.

There was also some buzz in the goal industry the NHL was going to make the set up illegal and grandfather in Osgood, but the league’s top goalie cop, Kay Whitmore, recently told InGoal Magazine it was news to him.

Rick Dipietro in Osgood's Old helmet and cage 2

Photo thanks to Ken DeNardo, theFourthPeriod.com

So Dipietro, whose almost absurd injury history since signing a 15-year, $67.5-million contract in 2006 also includes several hip and knee surgeries and more than one concussion, is free to wear Osgood’s mask, even though it’s easy to wonder why he’d risk it.

Then again, for all the potshots he takes, it might say something about how badly he wants to play.

According to a story in Newsday, he even came back after his bulldog, Roxy, was killed by a car the day after he came off injured reserve:

“It always seems like something,” DiPietro said a day before winning his return, 4-3 in a shootout over Florida, on Saturday night. “Whether it’s my face or my dog getting hit by a car. … It just seems like everything’s piling on here. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from all of this, especially dealing with my knee, is that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Stuff happens, and you have to learn from it and become a better person. I think I’ve become a better person, a more patient person. I respect and cherish what I have here, and that makes me work that much harder to come back.”

I’ve been through a lot the past couple of years. You want to be part of something special. I’ve always said I thought we have a special group of guys here, and I think you’re starting to see that on the ice. I’m just thrilled to be back.”


Rick DiPietro photos courtesy of Ken DeNardo theFourthPeriod.com

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16 Responses to Islanders Dipietro dons Osgood’s old mask to protect shattered face

  1. Matt in Montreal says:

    Don’t know if it’s just me, but I haven’t been getting Google Reader updates since the Anderson Sher-Wood post.

  2. Sean Code says:

    I made that cage.

    • Charlie Cockey says:

      I believe it, you’ve also made mine. You made the Hasek cage for me, and I also wore an HM30 from you for a couple of months, before a ref made me switch. Both of the cages were top quality, and I am thinking about trying your elite mask soon

  3. Sean Code says:

    Olympia Composites

  4. Chris says:

    looks like the stupidest thing ever

  5. Mctwang says:

    Great Helmet.

    Personaly I think the new masks are overated in terms of safety compared to the old “school” combo’s. A helmet protects the entire head where the new mask seems like a risk if one was to get hit in the back of the head. They’re also twice as hot.

    But hey, keep those sucker parents spending 500 bucks on kids mask while a 70 dollar helmet cage combo works.

    CAAAAAAACHING.

    • luke markus says:

      r u serious? who in their right mind is dumb enough to get hit in the back of the head? the modern mask is made for the modern goalie which means, the shape is made to fit the style of play of the butterfly goalie, it protects your neck when you are in the butterfly, it is just a far more advanced mask. and by the way, not sure if u read the article, but it can create pressure cuts (not a good thing) but your right, im sure it works great for you in your beer league where old guys shoot 20 miles per hour, but for the rest of us (with the exception of dipietro) we need a real mask that has good protection.

  6. Mark says:

    Assuming this is what Dipietro was wearing when he was nailed during practice the other day causing a concussion? Correct me if wrong but I’ve never heard of a concussion when wearing the modern fiberglass/Kevlar mask.

  7. Chris says:

    Looks like Dipietro didn’t get the modified one Ozzie used later on. The modified one (like Hasek’s) is made up of a composite front shell composed of carbon fiber, Kevlar and epoxy resin. The back piece was the original.

  8. Nick B says:

    Why doesn’t he get a Tim Thomas like mask? I know it takes some time to make, but it seems like thomas’s mask has the old school feel around the face but has all the modern safety features of the new masks.

  9. Paul says:

    Did any of you ever hear of this little known goalie who wore #35 for the NY Rangers. They hated him and his number so much they only have it hanging from the rafters at MSG???? Mike Richter??? Took two high intentional head hunting shots in short order and BAM, Lights Out, end of pro career! Guy has a lifetime closed head brain injury with symptoms that might haunt him forever. Big, big shame for a man who really has an intelligent brain. Thank goodness it seems he can live a fairly normal life otherwise post pro hockey… Best of luck in the life the rest of the way Mike….

    Paul

    • Bob says:

      Isn’t Mike Richter a lawyer now in New York? Sounds like his brain is working plenty good now. But I agree. I used the player helmet/ cage combo and it was terrible. Got a proper mask, and the shots to the head are nowhere near as bad as they were before.

    • James Williams says:

      I remember that Richter turned his head sideways and the puck impacted the flat of the mask instead of the glancing blow that would normally have occured had he not turned his head.

  10. Colleen says:

    If you guys read the responses you would know that this is a new set up and not an original old school mask. Made by Olympia Composites in Mn. If he would have worn it at practice he would not have had a concussion.

  11. Scott says:

    I have three helmet from Olympia Composites our of Burnsville, MN. The cages are built with heavy gage steel not the thin junk you get at the local hockey shop. The helmet is solid and I say bullet proof. I play with a lot of former and current pros and D1 college player that can fire the puck. I have been pelted a few times of the cage and helmet. Olympia has stood up to the test with flying colors. I challenge you to find a better product.

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