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DiPietro back again; Islanders hope blast from past could help spark solid season

  • 0280b1840df7d302260f6a7067006a88.jpg

    White Team goalie Rick DiPietro dons his mask before the first period of a New York Islanders Blue and White NHL hockey scrimmage at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. The scrimmage featured players from the Islanders training camp and the club's AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (The Associated Press)

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    White Team's Brock Nelson (29) looks to pass as Blue Team's Eric Boulton (36) defends during the second period of a New York Islanders Blue and White NHL hockey scrimmage at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. The scrimmage featured players from the Islanders training camp and the club's AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (The Associated Press)

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    Blue Team's Marty Reasoner (16) defends White Team's Johan Sundstrom (28) during the third period of a New York Islanders Blue and White NHL hockey scrimmage at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. The scrimmage featured players from the Islanders training camp and the club's AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (The Associated Press)

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    Blue Team's Matt Moulson (26) shoots past White Team goalie Rick DiPietro (39) during the first period of a New York Islanders Blue and White NHL hockey scrimmage at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. White Team's Aaron Ness defends. The scrimmage featured players from the Islanders training camp and the club's AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (The Associated Press)

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    White Team goalie Rick DiPietro, left, makes a save as Blue Team forward Frans Nielsen (51) checks White Team defenseman Aaron Ness (27) from behind during the first period of a New York Islanders Blue and White NHL hockey scrimmage at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. The scrimmage featured players from the Islanders training camp and the club's AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (The Associated Press)

Rick DiPietro knows all about being kept away from the hockey rink when he wished he could play.

Injuries upon injuries have sidelined the man who should have been the New York Islanders' franchise player but instead became the punch line for the club that has struggled to stay relevant in the NHL.

But DiPietro is back with the Islanders, ready to get back on the ice for the 48-game sprint of a season that will begin Saturday night at home against the defending Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils.

If DiPietro's health can come anywhere close to matching his enthusiasm, the Islanders could have quite a solid veteran goaltending tandem of Evgeni Nabokov and the 31-year-old DiPietro.