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For Matt Martin, there's nothing like Islanders vs. Rangers

Islanders left wing Matt Martin reacts during training

Islanders left wing Matt Martin reacts during training camp at Northwell Health Ice Center on Wednesday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Longtime Islander Matt Martin believes there’s no better way to start the season than facing the Rangers.

The New York rivals play Thursday and Saturday nights at Madison Square Garden to open their seasons.

"There’s nothing better in sports, in my opinion," said Martin, whose new, four-year, $6 million deal was finalized on Jan. 5. "Playing for the Leafs and playing at Montreal, nothing ever really felt quite like an Islander-Ranger game. To me, it’s the best. They’re a good team and we’ve got to be ready for them."

Martin first joined the Islanders in 2010 before Lou Lamoriello, then the Maple Leafs general manager, signed him to a four-year, $10 million deal in 2016. Lamoriello’s first deal as Islanders boss was to re-acquire Martin from Toronto on July 3, 2018.

The 31-year-old Martin now has a chance to finish his career where it started.

"That was really important, especially with the new building [UBS Arena at Belmont Park] coming," said Martin, speaking to the media for the first time since the contract, negotiated early in the offseason, was finalized. "I just wanted to see it through here and be a part of this franchise. They showed the trust and investment in me for four years and my goal is to go out there and pay that off."

Notes & quotes: Lamoriello said the goalies have been kept distanced in meetings and in the dressing room to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak from sweeping through the position. Lamoriello added that was true of the other position groups…Coach Barry Trotz said there have been procedural changes made for road trips to limit time spent and potential exposure at hotels and the arenas. Trotz added morning skates before road games would probably be "rare…" Forward Dmytro Timashov was placed on waivers.

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