Thursday, July 16, 2015

Martin Biron Swatch Card

Martin Biron retired after a rough start to the 2013-14 season, posting a 7.61 GAA with a .763 save percentage in a couple of games that forced head coach Alain Vigneault to turn to Cam Talbot to back up Henrik Lundqvist.

He had done fine work in the previous three seasons, finishing his parts of four years with the Original Six franchise with a 22-15-3 record, a 2.47 GAA and .908 save percentage, settling into the backup role after fighting for the #1 spot with the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers as well as an unclear 2009-10 with the New York Islanders where he outplayed Dwayne Roloson at times but couldn't sustain the rhythm, and was eventually sent to the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers to make room for Rick DiPietro who had been cleared to play although he was clearly not in game shape.

All told, Biron played in the NHL for 16 seasons, most of them in New York State, save for two and a quarter seasons right across the New Jersey turnpike, for the Flyers. He gave great post-game interviews and had funny moments on-camera when the NHL started allowing color commentators near team benches, which led to his post-career as a TV analyst, mostly for the MSG Network but also part-time with Canadian broadcasters RDS/TSN. Everybody loves him, and he's really fun to listen to, at times overly excited, yet always on point and pertinent.

Here he is wearing the Rangers' classic white (now-away) uniform with a great shot of his mask and piercing blue eyes, from Panini's 2013-14 Titanium set (card #GG-MBI of the Game-Worn Gear sub-set), featuring a game-worn blue swatch:
For some reason, I'll always identify him as a Sabre, despite their sandwiching him between Dominik Hasek and Ryan Miller, but my ''Biron Highlight'' will forever remain his performance in the second round of the 2007-08 playoffs as a Flyer, where he nearly single-highhandedly (with the help of timely R.J. Umberger goals) eliminated the Montréal Canadiens and their prized goalie Carey Price in the midst of the team's centennial celebrations, bringing Price to tears by Game 5. It was poetic injustice to see a local kid eliminate his hometown team so intensely and squarely in what was supposed to be its rebirth and re-positioning into the league's elite.

I won't go overboard and say it was one of the finest displays of goaltending I've ever seen because I've seen Patrick Roy will his way onto four Stanley Cups and three Conn Smythe trophies, and Jean-Sébastien Giguère, Ron Hextall, and Miikka Kiprusoff get their weaker team to the Final by forgetting they could let goals get by them, but as far as amazing performances while coming up short of the Final, Biron's 2008 is only overshadowed by Jaroslav Halak's 2010.

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