"Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends
we're so glad you could attend come inside, come inside"
Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) wrote those lyrics in 1973 - I was 5 - and embedded themselves in our rock and roll consciousness with a 29 minute 37 second exclamation of 1970s progressive rock.
You are likely saying, "What in the name of Robert Earl Clarke does any of this Republican Deadhead's nonsense have to do with Marty Biron?"
Nothing...other than the 2007-08 season is but mere weeks away, new ugly jerseys are hitting the shelves of stores near you, and the show's about to start! Meaningful NHL hockey is just a little more than a month away
"Welcome back my friends..."
Marty Biron has long been studying for his shot at "the show." He was the 1st round draft choice (#16) of the Buffalo Sabres in 1995. He played his first NHL game in 1995-1996 and was sent back to the QJMHL for "seasoning" as he played six game in the NHL with no wins, two losses and a GAA of 5.04. From 2001 to 2006 his game improved - after a guy who you might have heard of named Hasek was traded to Detroit in 2001. In 2001 he played 72 games, winning 31 with 4 shutouts, a GAA of 2.22 and SV% of .915. After splitting much of his time with Ryan Miller, Biron asked for a trade in June of 2006. In February 2007, he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2nd round pick. In March of that year the Flyers signed him to a 2 year, $7 dollar million contract extension and Marty assumed the mantle of the #1 goalie of the Flyers.
"The show that never ends..."
The goalie carousel that began with the retirement of former Veznia Trophy winner Ron Hextall in 1999, included John Vanbiesbrouck (Beezer), Brian Boucher (Boooooosh), Roman Cechmanek (scoop calls him the "Bi-Polar Goaler"
), Robert Esche, and Antero Niittymaki. None of them was stellar, with Cechmanek totalling 35 wins in the 2000-01 campaign as the best since Hexy's Venzia season of 37 in 1987. Cechmanek was a talented goalie but was more "unstable" than most goalies are. Don't get me wrong, it is hard to play goalie and you have to be a little nuts anyway...but Cechmanek was more than a little nuts. There were hopes that Niitty would be that "next" really good Flyers goaltenderand showed incredible promise in 2006 after starting 17 consecutive games due to an injury to Robert Esche. He won Defensive Player of the Week honors for the week ending January 8, 2006 when he posted a 1.33 GAA and a .953 SV% with a shutout. He continued his strong play in 2006 by winning the MVP of the Tournament in the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy and leading the Finns to a Silver Medal. In the 2006-2007 season, he was injured a good deal of the season with a torn labrum and spent time battling Robert Eshe for playing time.
"we're so glad you could attend come inside, come inside"
Enter Marty Biron. Marty Biron has the chance to head into the 2007-2008 season as the undisputed #1 goalie. Niitty will serve as a very capable backup and the tandem has the potential to be one of the better duos in the league. But make no mistake, this is Biron's show and he is driving the bus. He will certainly be buoyed by a revamped and vastly improved defense anchored by, outstanding leaders and former Captains of their respective teams, Kimmo Timonen and Jason "The Gator" Smith. His offense picture is brighter with the additions of Danny Briere, Joffrey Lupul, Scott Hartnell and returning former Pred Scotty Upshall. Add to that the veteren leadership of Simon Gagne, Mike Knuble, Sammi Kapanen and Derian Hatcher and there is a great deal of hockey minutes on the squad. The returning young guns of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards should continue to improve and give quality minutes on the second and third lines, respectively. Biron has a much better environment in which to be successful than he did when he came to the Flyers. Now all he has to do, is produce.
Biron is said to have a very level head on the ice, coupled with the inherent cockiness and swagger that you want your #1 goalie to have. He is very quick and used his agility and lightning quick left glove hand to frustrate would be scorers. He has all the tools to be a #1 goalie in the NHL. He will have to do it at the Bank Building in front of as rabid a group of fans as their are in the league. He was beloved in Buffalo and will, in my opinion, be a fan favorite in Philly for many years.
I am hopeful of wins in the high 20s, a GAA of under 2.9 and a SV% of above .905. That is certainly within the bounds of reason and, if accomplished, should lead the Flyers back to the promised land of the playoffs...where anything can happen.
"come inside the show's about to start
guaranteed to blow your head apart!"
Good luck Marty...we are rooting for you!