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MEET THE NEW GUY: BIRON

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders
What was your reaction to your signing with the Islanders?


I was really excited about the opportunity to come here. Obviously the first couple of weeks of July did not go as expected, but we spoke to Garth [Snow] and the organization on a regular basis throughout. As the days went on, it made more sense to come over here and be a part of the experience and the challenge it will be to have all these young, talented guys, and I look forward to being a part of them progressing. So I’ve been really excited since the day I signed and am looking forward to starting the season.

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From a goalie’s perspective, what have you seen from the current guys on the team?

They’ve got tremendous skills. They’re all good skaters. I mean a guy like Richard Park just flies around. I remember him scoring goals on me from breakaways to what not. I think that was probably why he was the first to come say hi to me because he’s been putting it in the back of the net. Even guys like Tavares, seeing how talented he is and what he’s going to be able to do, it’s really a treat to be able to be a part of this adventure.

Was there any player who reached out to you right away?

I talked to Bruno Gervais--he’s from Montreal--so I talked to him about this area--about where to go, where to live, places to be. When you come as a visiting team to Long Island, you stay at the Marriott and you walk across the parking lot, that’s about it. That’s all you get to see of Long Island, so you don’t know what’s out there. I spoke to Michael Peca who played here; he told me so many great things. Then I talked to my brother; he’s played here a couple of years, and he told me all about it. It’s a good experience to get that from those guys.

What have you done over the summer to take your mind off of the game?

Well, I have a family at home, three little ones and one on the way, so just spending time with them. My wife does horse saddle seat competition, so we have horses—we breed and train—so we’ve been going to horse shows. I love doing that—if I can get on a tractor and cut grass and shovel manure, I’d do it everyday.

Why number 43?

I had 00, and then I had to switch because the league made us switch. My brother was wearing 34 at the time when he played Juniors, so I figured flipping the numbers to 43 would be something interesting.

Looking at other French Canadian goalies like Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, and Patrick Roy, what advantage do you think French Canadian goalies have over the rest of net-minders in the league? 

I don’t know, maybe in our training as kids. When you have idols and role models to look up to it makes the transition or the vision real. It’s like seeing the strong, big, tough defenseman from out West or the skilled European players and the way they are.

Did Garth Snow’s position as a goalie and now General Manager have something to do with your comfort level in coming to Long Island?

It was something that I knew coming in that we would have an open line of communication and we would be able to work together, which would be a great thing. I had some conversations with Garth and that made me want to come here even more.  The fact that both Scott Gordon and Garth have played goalie in the NHL makes my comfort level go up because they have been there and know what it takes to succeed. 
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