Are you an Islander fan? You don’t have to like the Islanders to know that one of their greatest victories is having a player like Matt Martin. Matt got traded to Toronto last year and came back to the Islanders this year. He plays left wing.
He was born in Windsor, Canada, and grew up in a family that loved hockey. Matt was drafted by the Islanders in 2008 and went on to play for them for eight years. He then was traded to the Maple Leafs and then was traded back to the Islanders in July. We are so happy he is back with the Islanders and back at Nassau Coliseum.
Recently, we were able to visit Northwell Ice Arena in Eisenhower Park to watch the Islanders practice and sit down and interview Matt. The arena had a big Islanders logo on the door. One of the rinks was a lot colder than the other, but it doesn’t seem to bother the players because they were sweating from the tough practice and all the gear they wore. The coach would stop the team throughout the practice and write down the next drill they would do on a whiteboard. The players were all gathered around him, listening to his instructions and as soon as he was done, they got to work. It was interesting to see the players up close because they look so small on TV but are actually so tall and much bigger when you are at eye level. They skated really fast, and their shots were so strong that one actually went over the protective net above the goal and onto the ground outside the rink. We waved to Matt and he winked at us. The practice lasted about two hours and eventually the players started leaving the ice except for few that stayed to continue shooting on with the goalie.
Finally it was time to talk with Matt. When he came out to meet us on the bleachers next to the rink, he had a big smile on his face. We asked him questions about his hockey career and life. Everything he spoke about was related to family. He talked about how his family was a big part of his success in hockey by teaching him how to play, driving him to practice and games all over and encouraging him to never give up. Both his parents took him to practice. Both his brother and sister played hockey when they were younger, too, so it was hard for them to make it to all the games, but they did the best they could. He grew up loving the Detroit Red Wings, like his family, but then his favorite players moved to the Colorado Avalanche, so he became the only Avalanche fan in his family. Matt said he always wanted to be a hockey player and he couldn’t imagine being anything else.
We asked him about his career before he went pro. He once got cut from the Windsor Jr Spitfires. He said it was tough but that it made him work harder and his family helped him to push forward.
We asked Matt what the first thing was that he bought when he became a pro. He told us that first he was glad to be able to pay his own rent. Then he bought a car, but he needed a car anyway. The first thing he splurged on was a Rolex and he still wears it every day.
Another question we asked was whether he can hear the crowd yelling and does he ever want to yell back. He said he can hear the crowd. Sometimes they boo and sometimes they cheer and encourage him. The only time he feels like he wants to yell back is when they yell at him to shoot but he knowshe needs to make those decisions on his own.
We asked him who was the best player on his team. He told us all the players make important contributions so that’s a hard question to answer.
We also asked him about one crazy thing. His future father-in-law, Boomer Esiason, and his family are huge Rangers fans. Matt is engaged to Boomer's daughter, Sydney. Matt explained that it is probably going to be hard to persuade Boomer to become an Islanders fan because like him, Boomer grew up loving the Rangers and even has #7 on his football jersey because that was the number of his favorite Ranger, Rod Gilbert.
After our interview, Matt signed our pucks, hats and jerseys and we got to take some pictures with him. We will never forget this moment and we are excited that he is back playing with the Islanders this season.