First, required reading from islandersindependent.com about the Martin Biron signing and his latest take on the Rick DiPietro situation, a situation he had pegged from the start.
Martin Biron was the goalie I wished the Islanders would target out of the gate. While I was not really upset about Dwayne Roloson (he did play 63 games last year as a 39-year-old), Biron gives the Islanders a goalie tandem that could be our best goalie tandem since Glenn Healy and Mark Fitzpatrick. DiPietro can take his time and get better for good, if that is even possible at this point.
A couple of interesting notes after seeing the news breaking on Twitter and reading about this yesterday afternoon:
1. Biron and Roloson both have the same agent, Mark Witkin. The Roloson move made sense for Roloson, but, if you're Biron, are you wondering what your agent is thinking? Or is the market that dry for goaltending help? The only other potential "impact" goalie to move this offseason was Edmonton bringing in Khabibulin to replace Roloson.
2. Did Snow and Gordon make this move to make absolutely sure that DP does not come back too soon? I know the doctors and coaching staff will say one thing, but I can see DiPietro acting like a petulant teenager when he gets close to being game-ready. This way, DiPietro cannot persuade anyone and does not have to because the Islanders have major-league quality depth at the most important position in hockey.
Though the Biron deal fell into the Islanders' laps, they are also showing they are planning for more than a 12th- or 13th-place finish this year. What else do you think GM Garth Snow has up his sleeve? Alex Tanguay? A trade for Jonathan Cheechoo to help the Sharks clear out cap room? Sign Phil Kessel to an offer sheet? I've heard all of these are possible from my Twitter friends. I don't think the Islanders are done yet and they need more scoring and more grit. Grit is something that will be cheaper much closer to the season. But, scoring doesn't grow on trees.
Now, how does Islanders Country feel about the franchise goaltender? Personally, I have always liked DiPietro. I have always wanted to see him succeed and still believe he could be one of the top five goaltenders in the league for a long time. But, knowing that he put himself in front of the team by trying to play when he shouldn't put the team at a big disadvantage both before the season (no goaltending depth in the organization, thinking DP would be fine) and early in the season (DP was on the bench, but was really injured and could not play) was a bad move. It was almost as bad for the front office to believe him.
When the team got off to a rough start, the fingers were justifiably pointed at the most important position in hockey: goaltending. Yes, Joey MacDonald had a good November, but eventually, everything caught up with him. Sure, Yann Danis had some nice starts along the way, but December and January killed any chances the Islanders had of a good season.
But, look at the other side of the coin. If the Islanders had capable goaltending when DiPietro went down, maybe the Islanders are not one of the worst teams in the league, do not win the Draft Lottery, and do not select John Tavares for a franchise rebirth. Also, the organization may not have reacted this same way this offseason with respect to signing and drafting goaltenders to both fill out the Opening Night roster and replenish the farm system. If DiPietro put the team first, goaltending might actually be more of a question mark right now.
I had very low expectations for the Islanders coming into last season and I was hoping the kids learned. I said early in the year that I would be more upset with a 7-2 loss in March than I was in October (the Columbus Day game against Buffalo was bad, but I hoped we learned from it). That did not happen and they came in even lower than I expected. But, last season was a big sacrifice for everyone: players, coaches, front office, ownership, and, most of all, fans.
This year, a lot of that "learning" has to pay off. It already has in the front office, who will not be fooled again by listening to the franchise goaltender. No matter what other signings or trades the Isles make between now and October 3rd, when the season starts, guys like Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Blake Comeau, Sean Bergenheim, and (gulp) Jeff Tambellini have to learn from all of this and come out the other side much better for it. Otherwise, it'll be another long season.