For 16 seasons Martin Biron was not only a quality National Hockey League goaltender for four different teams including the Rangers, but he was popular, affable, and approachable to all he came in contact with from teammates to fans to media members to opponents to team staff personnel. Now that he has officially retired, Biron will likely be remembered as much for the person he is and the lives he has touched, as for his 508 career games played or 230 NHL victories.
"I always loved the game from the age of four, loved every aspect of the game," Biron shared with BlueshirtsUnited.com Sunday afternoon after announcing his retirement as a player. "I have been blessed to have a career where you pull on the pads every day, work hard, and have so much fun. I never forgot that. It's been an incredible, amazing ride. I met some great people along the way. I am very lucky to have experienced the things I have experienced in my career."
Despite his passion for the sport he loves so much and his commitment to the Rangers, Biron admitted Sunday that retirement had been "brewing in my mind" since the lockout last year. Unlike his previous two seasons with the Rangers, Biron lived apart from his wife and four children starting last year after the family bought a home in the Buffalo area so that the kids could attend school where they would permanently live.
"Last year, the year of the lockout, really gave me chance to see what there was for me after hockey because I was here being with the kids all of the time and being able to enjoy normal every-day family life," explained Biron. "Then when I went back to New York it was fun to be with the guys and play hockey, but it was also hard personally because I missed my family. When I left for camp this year I had those (retirement) thoughts brewing in my head again, so I felt I would play it by ear. After a month I was having more and more of those feelings."
Though retirement weighed on his mind, Biron likely would have played out the season, and done his best to help the Rangers this season. However things changed dramatically last week when he cleared waivers and was assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack by the organization.
Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather gave Biron time to think about his future and whether or not the goaltender wished to report to Hartford. By Friday Biron and his family had come to a decision that it was time for the 36 year-old to retire as a player.
"I am thankful for what Glen did for me, giving me the time to sort things out, as well as everything he and the organization did for me the past four years," stated Biron. "My time as a Ranger was just amazing. Playing in New York was very special, and playing in The Garden on the home side was an incredible experience. I got to love the game again coming here to this organization."
Interestingly Biron had a long conversation about his future last weekend with his father after Biron had a rough outing in the Rangers 5-3 loss in St. Louis. While the idea of retirement was floated in the chat, it became much more of a possibility on Tuesday when he cleared waivers.
"I'm not sure I was being fair to myself, my family, or the organization, so the waivers were actually a weird coincidence and made this more of a possibility," explained Biron. "Things are different when you are 31 or 32 to when you are 36 like I am now. You have different priorities. So now it's time to move on to my next chapter."
As for what is next, Biron likely will have many options. Personable, engaging, talkative, and camera-friendly, Biron would seem a natural for a television job. His Biron's Journal segments right here on this web site certainly highlight all of those skills. And Biron says in recent years he has thought about coaching possibilities, as well.
"I'm going to be really attentive and listen to what's out there in order to move on to the next chapter," stated Biron. "I'm going to play it by ear, not rush into anything, but at the same time I want to begin what's next for me. I've got a lot of life and time and great things ahead. I'm looking forward to it."
For now Biron is at home with his family---Saturday he attended his son Jacob's pee-wee football game while his young daughters joined the cheerleaders on the sidelines---and he is more than thrilled with that. He sums up his 16-year NHL career as "a blessing", and feels "excited" about what lies ahead.
To the man who says he "always wanted to give something back" to the sport he loves, and the people he met along the way, a collective Thank You and Best Wishes from all those he touched along the way is more than deserved.