Goaltender Martin Biron returned to the Rangers and was on the ice Friday after missing the first two days of training camp to attend to a personal situation. Biron briefly spoke with reporters and would not reveal details as to why he headed home to Buffalo, though he made sure to point out that he is "100 percent committed to the team."
Head coach Alain Vigneault also would not divulge the nature of Biron's team-approved two-day departure, saying only that he did not expect the issue to be a lingering one. Vigneault, however, did acknowledge that there will a training camp competition between Biron and veteran Johan Hedberg---who is in camp on a PTO---for the right to be Henrik Lundqvist's back up this season.
"In an Olympic year I need a back-up goaltender that can play games for us, whether that number is 15 to maybe 20," explained Vigneault. "We need a backup goaltender that can play and win us some games. That's part of the equation to get into the playoffs, and to have a (number one) goaltender that come playoff time has got some energy and some jump in his legs. Martin is aware of that---we had that discussion when he first got here. And if we brought in Hedberg, it's obviously to give him a chance."
The 36 year-old Biron has served as Lundqvist's back-up for the past three seasons. In that span he has appeared in 44 games, including only six a year ago in the lockout-shortened season. Biron is 22-14-3 with the Rangers, and he has totaled 230 wins, 28 shutouts, and a 2.60 goals against average in his 13-year NHL career.
In 2011-12, when the Rangers won 50 games, recorded 109 points, and reached the Eastern Conference Finals, Biron appeared in 21 games, posting a 12-6-2 record, and two shutouts behind Lundqvist, who won the Vezina Trophy that season.
Hedberg, 40, who spent the past three years with the Devils, said on Thursday that he was not sure where this opportunity with the Rangers would lead, but he was excited about it.
"It doesn't matter if I had a three-year contract or a tryout, I always try and do my best," said Hedberg, who was Sweden's back-up goalie in the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics. "I think this is a great opportunity, one I wanted to explore."
The Rangers have three other goaltenders in camp: Cam Talbot and Jason MIssiaen, who both played in the AHL a year ago, and Jeff Malcolm, who turned pro this summer after backstopping Yale to the NCAA Championship in his senior year of college. Scott Stajcer is recovering from a leg injury and is not yet cleared to take part in practices.