Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dealing With Underachievement

I am not a fan of Marty Biron. I’m not exactly a detractor either; Marty is a journeyman player. He isn’t bad. Marty is simply average- and that is not a guy you can build a serious Stanley Cup run around. So the news is not exactly surprising:
Biron, who saw his Flyers job given to free agent Ray Emery, signed a 1-year deal yesterday with the New York Islanders, reportedly for $1.4 million.

It was neither the money he was seeking nor the situation he could have wanted. The Islanders already have Rick DiPietro under contract through the 2020-21 season after he signed a 15-year, $67.5 million deal in 2006.

DiPietro missed all but five games last season with a knee injury. The Islanders expect DiPietro to start skating again in August and to be ready for training camp in September.

If that is not enough, the Islanders signed free agent Dwayne Roloson to a 2-year, $5 million contract on July 1. That makes Biron the third goalie if DiPietro is healthy.
The Islanders are categorically not lining up for a championship run- and they are the very definition of team looking for journeyman goalie play: a guy who can both quietly back-up and step in play during Pietro’s frequent absences. Mind you, there is a role in the NHL for such a player. But not at the guaranteed multi-year numbers Biron’s camp was throwing around.

A lot of hockey people in Philadelphia were sort of grudging Biron supporters- pointing out that just two years ago he played very credibly in getting the Flyers to the conference final. But I think this contract is indicative that attitude didn’t spread much further than locally. A one year deal at $1.4M as the third goalie option with a bottom feeder franchise is code for “zero league wide interest” in Marty.

So I’m fine with his departure. I guess you could win some play-off games with the guy. But when you start banging heads with Pittsburgh, your goalie needs to be a big plus, not someone you kinda get by with. I have no idea where Ray Emery will come down- but he is an inexpensive, low risk commitment that might just work if he plays back to, or hopefully improves upon, his work in 2007 in Ottawa. At least there is a unromantic reasonable chance- whereas with Marty Biron, real deep success was simply not possible. Obviously, the entire NHL is on to that as well- and the Flyers probably not only did the right thing letting him walk but also dodged a big dollar bullet driven by an organizational tendency to overrate your own talent.

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