Rob DiMaio knows his career is likely over. He just is having trouble saying the words.
The ex-Lightning wing, battling post-concussion syndrome from an injury sustained in September, said he is not ready to retire. That despite Monday's disappointing report from his doctor, who DiMaio said will not clear him to play.
"That kind of puts an end to it,'' DiMaio said from his Toronto home. "But it's something I've done for 18 years, and for somebody to tell you you can't do it anymore, it's tough to take.''
DiMaio, 39, committed only to sitting out next season, and while he said he knows it would be like "hitting the lottery,'' he hopes to play in 2008-09.
"I don't feel I'm over the hill by any means,'' he said. "I've always had the thought that maybe there's a chance there's going to be something that just pops into place. It just hasn't come yet.''
DiMaio has had persistent headaches and dizziness since a questionable hit by Montreal's Guillaume Latendresse during a preseason game.
He said last week's testing with Michael Collins, a concussion expert at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, showed better reaction times but a worsening of his long- and short-term memory, a development he called a bit frightening.
DiMaio said two teams, though not Tampa Bay, asked him about working as a scout or in player development.
"It's an interesting scenario I'll have to think about,'' he said.
In the meantime, he added, "It's not an official retirement.''
Damian Cristodero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.