“STOP THE PRESSES!” The “Unofficial Mayor of Long Island” IS BACK!
During the off-season, the Islanders brought back arguably the most popular player to wear their jersey this decade; Matt Martin. After two seasons in Toronto, Martin returned to the Island — a place he never truly wanted to leave — as a conquering hero.
During his initial tenure with the Islanders, Martin was part of the “Best Fourth Line in Hockey,” along with Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck. The trio combined for an astounding number of hits during its’ multi-season run, and also managed to scored quite a few impactful goals.
When Martin went North of the Border as a free agent, many fans felt like the heart of the team had been gutted.
But on July 3, 2018, the “Heart of the Team,” came home.
“Coming back to the Islanders is exciting for me,” he told Newsday’s Andrew Gross on that exciting day. “In my heart, I was hoping for this.”
Now, 15 games into his return, Martin is averaging his highest amount of ice-time since before he joined the Maple Leafs in 2016.
A sturdy 6-3, 220 lbs., the left-winger from Ontario is producing at his career-average rate; something he didn’t manage during his two-year stint with the Maple Leafs. And his presence on the ice gives Coach Barry Trotz something he didn’t have in Washington; a responsible enforcer, who can also score clutch goals when necessary.
During the Isles’ 3-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday December 4, 2018, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Martin tallied a season-high 12:33 of ice time and registered a whopping EIGHT hits; tying a season-high.
“I feel pretty comfortable playing with Casey and Clutter,” said Martin. “There’s a chemistry there and we’re going to continue to grow together.”
In regards to his eight-hit night, Martin essentially acted like he was expected to get that many every game.
“The coaching staff expect me to be reliable and play a physical game,” said Martin. “It’s important to try and have an impact on every shift. We expect to win.”
And Coach Trotz echoed that statement in his post-game presser.
“We get paid to win,” explained Trotz. “We feel we can play against anybody in this league.”
“It’s unfortunate we didn’t get a point tonight,” said Mathew Barzal. “But we just have to try to play hockey and make plays.”
On a night when the Islanders’ didn’t achieve their collective goal, the “Heart of the Team” at least managed to deliver on part of his personal mission. And that’s to “have an impact on every shift.”
And who knows, perhaps the “Unofficial Mayor of Long Island” will be able to impart his impact on the rest of his teammates in time to win over the majority of the voting body; the fans.