My routine when I get up in the early afternoon usually starts with firing up the Powerbook G4 to check the day's news on The Sports Network, Canada's answer to the evilness that is ESPN.

So you can imagine the look on my face Tuesday when I saw New York Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro signed a 15-year contract worth $67.5 million. It's not the amount that makes me cock my head and say "Wha-a-a-a?" -- I'm used to the ridiculousness that comes with sports salaries these days.

It's the three elements that come together: Rick DiPietro. Nearly $68 million. Fifteen years.

Jesus wept.

You see, it's not as if owner Charles Wang was paying for Hall of Fame caliber netminders like Patrick Roy or Martin Brodeur or Miikka Kiprusoff. He's also not getting a bright talent like Henrik Lundqvist or Cam Ward.

It's Rick DiPietro. The Chevy Cavalier of goalies.

Former general manager "Mad" Mike Milbury traded away a good, young goaltender in Roberto Luongo for the opportunity to make DiPietro the first goaltender to be selected No. 1 overall. In four seasons, DiPietro is 58-62-8 with a 2.85 goals-against average, .900 save percentage and six shutouts. He had one playoff win in five games, though.

Among those with more regular season wins than DiPietro in that span include Roman Cechmanek, Tommy Salo and Roman Turek -- all of whom no longer play in North America.

And for this Wang shells out almost $68 million.

This is why the words "Islanders" and "circus" often belong in the same sentence. In the salary cap era that is the new NHL, this is a bank-breaker. Since no team will take on that contract, this will be one long marriage. All this comes on top of the hiring -- and firing six weeks later -- of general manager Neil Smith ... only to be replaced by Garth Snow, DiPietro's former backup.

If nothing else, Rangers fans will continue to get a chuckle out of this. So will the rest of the league.

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