Niagara Gazette

February 27, 2007

TIM'S TAKE: Even through bad times, Biron was good

COMMENTARY

By Tim Schmitt/tschmitt@gnnewspaper.com

He stood beaming in a crowd, unfazed as cameras nudged closer and outstretched arms held microphones near his wide smile.

Once the heir apparent to Dominik Hasek, Marty Biron was squarely back in the spotlight six days ago, and where others hightail out of the HSBC Arena locker rooms, Biron would have done two shows if the tickets were moving.

“The guys gave me a split decision,” he joked after getting TKO’d by Ottawa goalie Ray Emery in the most memorable game of the season. “I don’t know if I deserved that.”

He didn’t.

Biron got a beatdown from Emery, hanging on desperately while the opposing goalie showed his kickboxing prowess, complete with a self-congratulatory smile. In fact, the only shot Biron registered was a nasty slide tackle that probably would have drawn more heat had he not taken four or five missiles to the noggin.

But it didn’t matter. If ever there was a moment that succinctly defined Biron — the ultimate team guy in an era where camaraderie is no longer held as the primary standard — it was last week’s brawl. Knowing full well he’d likely take a licking, and knowing his days in Buffalo were probably down to single digits, Biron did what good teammates do, helping to show the Senators they couldn’t push the hosts around without repercussions.

Biron didn’t stand a chance against Emery, and he knew if Ryan Miller stayed healthy he didn’t have a chance of seeing time in the playoffs, but he didn’t rock the boat on a team that’s green enough to have a fragile ego. If anything, Marty’s wit and candor took the heat off the newbies, even if he wasn’t playing.

His chitter-chatter was a constant in the locker room, a place that can become melancholy after losses or narcissistic after wins.

Either way, Marty was Marty, keeping the same sense of smiles and sparkle.

Biron is one of those athletes who seems to get it — he’s lucky enough, and good enough, to make an exorbitant amount of cash doing something the rest of us struggle to clear our schedule for. If the Sabres are lucky enough to win a Stanley Cup, it’s too bad a guy of high character like Biron won’t be here to share in it.

Contact group sports editor Tim Schmitt at 282-2311, Ext. 2266.