Ricky DiPietro may be cocky, flashy and some have even said arrogant, but even if all those things are true one fact remains, he will be one of the top five picks in the upcoming NHL entry draft and will most likely have a long successful career in the NHL.
The first time I saw Ricky play I was in Portsmouth, New Hampshire for a job interview. I flew in from Portland, Oregon and was turning the channels on the TV looking for some hockey. I hadn’t seen much college hockey (except for the frozen four on ESPN a couple years back), so when I came across a Boston University game I have to admit I wasn’t all that excited. I watched for a few minutes and was mesmerized by the BU goalie. Not only was he making saves and playing smart hockey, he was also taking several chances and virtually dictating the pace of the game himself. The most incredible display of skill was his ability to handle the puck. It has been said that he is like having another defenseman, but I honestly think he is like another forward. After my long flight and a big dinner I was falling asleep, when the BU goalie launched a perfect outlet pass opening up a forward for a breakaway and a goal. Needless to say, I watched the rest of the game and have been hooked on college hockey ever since.
It should not be surprising that he decided to go pro. He plays like a pro goalie, has a huge personality and seems to be a natural to handle the pressure and attention of being a pro. I’m not so sure he’s all that arrogant, he was a great interview and was very easy to talk to. Rick’s agent Paul Kripelka of Wolf Associates in Boston is a perfect fit for Rick. Paul is very down to earth, has his feet firmly planted in reality and is a believer in Ricky’s talent. “He has the ability to be a special player”, Kripelka said in the few minutes I had with Paul while waiting to interview Ricky. “We don’t care where he goes, he just wants to get the opportunity to play in the NHL”, a sentiment shared by DiPietro. I asked Rick if he likes the expectation of being the top rated goalie in the draft, “It’s a great honor, it’s something you dream about your whole life, just hoping to get drafted”.
It wasn’t all that long ago that BU was battling through four overtime periods in the NCAA tournament. It was a marathon of a game and had DiPietro “hoping that the game would be called and go to a shoot out”. That’s just the attitude that seems to bother some people and excite others. It’s just the attitude that will get him selected early in the draft and just the attitude that will bring him success in the NHL. Rick has played goalie since he was five years old and has always wanted to go to college, “growing up watching the Beanpot then going to BU has been more than I could have hoped for”, and now it appears that he’s going to get more than he could have hoped for and then some.
With a great showing at the combine in Toronto last month, Ricky DiPietro seems to have guaranteed himself a spot on a NHL roster, and soon. Rick referred to Ron Hextall quite a bit in our conversation and it makes sense considering the similarities between the two, but I think DiPietro will one day refer to Hextall as a peer. Many other people will remember Ron Hextall when they see Ricky stand his ground, get under a player’s skin, handle the puck like a forward in goalie gear, and take over a game on his own. This kid has the raw skill and talent to be a great goalie. With the right guidance and good decision making, he will silence all the doubters.
Thanks to Paul Kripelka of Wolf Associates, Boston for being so accessible and helpful.