Islanders sign Dunham to back up netminder DiPietro

Updated: September 29, 2006, 11:25 PM ET
Associated Press

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders signed Mike Dunham to a one-year contract Friday, ending their search for a backup goalie to replace new general manager Garth Snow.

Dunham made the team after joining the Islanders in training camp as a non-roster invitee. The nine-year NHL veteran played in New York's first three preseason games and was in uniform again Friday when the Islanders faced the New York Rangers, but didn't see any action.

Mike Dunham

"I talked to a few teams," Dunham said after the Islanders' 2-1 victory. "They needed another goaltender when Garth retired to become the GM. I felt this would be the best opportunity for me."

He was 1-1 in his first three outings, allowing six goals on 36 shots for a 4.09 goals-against average. Dunham will serve as the backup to No. 1 netminder Rick DiPietro, who earlier this month signed a 15-year deal with the Islanders worth $67.5 million.

That contract was worked out with team owner Charles Wang along with Snow, who until this summer was DiPietro's understudy. But when Wang fired Neil Smith as GM just weeks after hiring him, he turned to Snow -- who immediately hung up his skates and pads.

"It became clear in the past few weeks that signing Mike was a priority," Snow said in a statement. "He possesses all the characteristics that we look for in a player and has already shown that he'll be an asset to our club."

During his NHL career, including stops with New Jersey, Nashville, the New York Rangers and Atlanta, the 34-year old Dunham has a goals-against average of 2.69 and a .908 save percentage. Last season with the Thrashers, Dunham was 8-5 with a 2.77 GAA and .893 save percentage.

He was still sporting his Thrashers mask when he faced the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Monday. DiPietro played in the rematch Friday as Dunham watched from the bench.

"It's taking a little while to get used to," Dunham said of playing for all three New York-area teams. "Once the season starts, it'll be fine."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press