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DiPietro's return makes Isles' Biron expendable

Montreal Canadiens' Andrei Markov (79) shoots the puck

Montreal Canadiens' Andrei Markov (79) shoots the puck behind New York Islanders' goalie Martin Biron (43) for a first period goal as Canadiens' Mike Cammalleri (13) and Islanders Brendan Witt fall into the net. (December 19, 2009) Credit: AP

Will Rick DiPietro's return spell Martin Biron's departure? Most likely, but not until DiPietro shows he can remain injury-free over an extended period. That puts Biron's career in a holding pattern.

When Biron, 32, signed his one-year contract for $1.4 million last summer, he knew he was a stopgap for the rehabbing DiPietro. The day would come when his services would no longer be required. Islanders general manger Garth Snow made that clear.

Unless the Islanders figure it is cheaper to keep him around as insurance should DiPietro go down again, Biron is likely to be traded. "We'll see what happens,'' he said Tuesday. "I know my agent has had conversations with Garth. I've even had a conversation with Garth. I guess we'll wait and see. I'm a firm believer that things will happen as they are meant to happen.''

One of the most engaging Islanders, perhaps the most popular with his teammates, Biron will not issue a "play me or trade me'' edict. He is not the type to complain.

Biron started the season alternating with Dwayne Roloson, who was given a two-year contract worth $5 million. The Islanders figured the 40-year-old would be more amenable to backing up DiPietro when and if he regains his starting role. Coach Scott Gordon said he doesn't need three goaltenders and conceded Roloson is one of the two he'd keep.

Biron never resigned himself to being a backup. Roloson eventually won the starting job as Biron suffered from a lack of goal support. The team just couldn't score for him.

"I want to play,'' he said. "I want to have a chance to do what I did the last two years when I was in Philly, take the team to the playoffs, and play in the playoffs. There was no better feeling . . . That's what you play for, that's what you want to do.''

Now, Biron's status is hazy. "Having three [goalies] isn't the ideal situation,'' he said. "Rollie did it in Edmonton for almost all of last year and it wasn't easy. We're lucky that we have three guys that really get along with one another. It's not like we're out there to put roadblocks on somebody. Ricky's coming back, he wants to get some shots, go ahead, get some shots. The guy who is playing the next day, you want a little bit more, go ahead, take a little bit more.''

Biron can do little but sit and wait. The NHL trading deadline is March 3, right after the Winter Olympics. "It's not an easy situation,'' Biron said. "You try to make the best out of it.''

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