The NHL left a lump of coal in Matt Martin’s stocking yesterday, giving him a head start on his holiday break with a two-game suspension for his hit Saturday on Coyotes forward Vernon Fiddler.
The 21-year-old Windsor, Ontario native was slapped with the two-game ban following a hearing yesterday afternoon to discuss his open-ice hit on Fiddler at 6:23 of the first period during the Islanders 4-3 shootout loss to Phoenix.
"I wasn't expecting the [suspension] but the league is trying to crack down on those types of hits and I respect their decision," Martin said when reached by telephone Monday night.
Martin caught Fiddler with a shoulder to the head as the Coyotes alternate captain was trying to dump the puck in from the blue-line. The league likely applied the new head shot rule when reviewing the hit, determining it to be a blind-side hit and/or finding the head to be the principal point of contact.
Martin earned a two-minute minor charging penalty on the play and Coyotes winger Radim Vrbata redirected Shane Doan’s point shot at 6:57 on the resulting power-play for a 1-0 lead.
Martin is the second Islanders to be disciplined this season. Defenseman James Wisniewski served a two-game ban in October for making a lewd gesture toward Rangers pest Sean Avery.
The gritty fourth-line grinder, who will forfeit $6,792.12 in salary per the rules of the collective bargaining agreement, has two goals in 22 games for the Islanders this season. Martin, alsp the team leader with 104 hits, will sit Wednesday against Tampa Bay and Thursday against the New Jersey Devils.
"Obviously it wasn't my intent. That's not the type of player I am. I think I'm going to continue playing the way I always have," Martin said. "This is the first suspension I've had at any level. I have 100-plus hits and only had two minor penalties this whole season on body checks. I'm just going to have to be more careful in situations like that in the future."