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Hartnett: Martin Biron Still In A New York State Of Mind

Charismatic Goalie Sure To Be A Hit As Rangers Analyst
Martin Biron of the New York Rangers thanks the crowd as one of the three stars of the game against the Calgary Flames on November 22, 2010 at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Lou Capozzola/Getty Images)

Martin Biron of the New York Rangers thanks the crowd as one of the three stars of the game against the Calgary Flames on November 22, 2010 at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Lou Capozzola/Getty Images)

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‘Rangers Inside And Out’
By Sean Hartnett
» More Columns

Not every athlete who is given the privilege of playing in New York manages to soak it all in.

That wasn’t the case of recently retired goaltender Marty Biron, who embraced every moment he had in the spotlight.

Biron won a firm place in the hearts of Rangers fans due in equal measure to his outgoing, charismatic personality and his consistent play between the pipes when filling in for Henrik Lundqvist.

When the colorful and charismatic Biron signed for the Rangers in the summer of 2010, his excitement was only eclipsed by the joy felt by his son Jacob.

“It was a very exciting moment when I first signed with the Rangers,” Biron said. “I remember when we signed, my son Jacob was just ecstatic. The New York Rangers, Madison Square Garden — that was very fun and very exciting for him. I absolutely shared his passion for it.”

Biron remembers the first time he drove from his former home in Westchester to Madison Square Garden. He was amazed by the bright lights, sounds and fast-paced pulse of Manhattan.

Suddenly, his hand would crank up the volume on his stereo and his foot would press a little harder on the pedal.

“Driving to the city from Westchester on a game night — it was like the music was getting louder and louder as I was approaching the city,” Biron said. “I was driving faster and faster as well. You get really excited, you get very geared up for a game, the passion of fans and the passion of the organization.”

Prior to joining the Rangers, Biron was recognized as a No. 1 goalie for the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers.

As Lundqvist’s deputy, Biron enjoyed the unique nature of playing for an Original Six franchise. Even though his role was as a backup, Biron truly enjoyed representing the Blueshirts and all the perks that come with playing for a historic club.

“I truly did appreciate the history and the rivalries,” Biron said. “It was definitely something that I’m very happy to have crossed off my list.”

Originally, Biron didn’t know Lundqvist all that well. That didn’t last long, as the goaltending duo became fast friends during Biron’s second season in New York.

“I didn’t really know him when I joined the team,” Biron said. “In the first year, I sat beside him and tried to learn his mannerisms — when I needed to say something, or be there to support him. In the second year, we sat next to each other on the plane and watched the same TV shows and got to talk about hockey and talk about other stuff.”

TEAMMATES BIRON AND LUNDQVIST ENJOYED A SPECIAL FRIENDSHIP

Biron recalled one story in particular that “summed up the whole relationship” between himself and Lundqvist.

Prior to Biron’s October 20 retirement, the Rangers were enjoying a rare day off in Anaheim. Lundqvist asked Biron to tag along on a shopping excursion at mall near the Honda Center. Not many teammates would have taken on the challenge of enduring a four-hour shopping marathon with Lundqvist.

“We had a day off, so we went to the mall across the street from the hotel and we went shopping,” Biron said. “Not too many people would go three or four hours shopping, walking around the mall with Henrik. It was an experience, I felt like I never did anything like that in my life.”

Lundqvist is clearly a meticulous shopper. Biron enjoyed seeing yet another side to the goalie that he hadn’t seen before.

“It was so funny going to every store, seeing how he goes about doing all that,” Biron said. “It was almost like a newsflash to me. I knew he loved that stuff, I knew he was the best-dressed and all of that.”

The occasion brought Biron and Lundqvist even closer than they had been.

“But, that part of it, I didn’t really know him,” Biron said. “I got to enjoy every second of it. We had a lot of laughs. That kind of summed it up pretty good. I was kind of his wife away from home at the locker room, so that was good.”

Sadly, it would be one of their last off-ice adventures as teammates. The Rangers placed Biron on waivers days later – October 14. An emotional Lundqvist knew he was losing a great friend.

“It’s sad to see Marty go,” Lundqvist said following the demotion that paved Biron’s retirement. “I got to know him really well over the years and had a great relationship.”

BIRON TO MAKE MSG STUDIO DEBUT ON TUESDAY

A new calling awaits Biron. He will make his debut in the MSG studio on Tuesday as pregame, intermission and postgame analyst alongside former Rangers Ron Duguay and Anson Carter as well as long-time hosts Al Trautwig and Bill Pidto.

His studio debut fittingly comes against an old rival in the New Jersey Devils.

“It couldn’t have been any better than a Devils-Rangers matchup,” Biron said.

For all the reasons that Biron was an outstanding teammate and a great interview subject, it’s likely that he’ll be an absolute hit with the fans during Rangers broadcasts.

“I’m excited to be back at The Garden tomorrow, but in a different way,” Biron said. “It was really time for me to move on to something else. So, I’m excited about that.”

Biron doesn’t have any second thoughts about retirement. He could have chosen to push on in the minors with the Hartford Wolf Pack.

“I’ve not once got up in the morning and thought — Man, I wish I was driving to practice, or I wish I was going to the game tonight,” Biron said. “It hasn’t been there. Maybe it’s something that I’m going to deal with later, but it’s been quite some time now — and not one time have I thought that.”

When Biron elected to retire, everyone knew his next move would be broadcasting. I’m sure that Rangers fans will enjoy getting a closer look at Biron’s colorful personality just as I had the privilege of covering the absolute gentleman that he was as a player.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @HartnettHockey

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