As one of the most popular Islanders, Matt Martin maybe doesn’t have the on-ice influence of some of his bigger-name teammates, but he’s about to lead the NHL in hits for a second straight season.
He’s also a locker-room leader, and here’s what he had to say about his first playoff trip in our "In Your Own Words" series:
“We’ve been through a lot as a group, been through some tough years -- it’s been three years since I played a playoff game and it wasn’t here, obviously. We’ve had some really long summers, sitting around watching other guys in the playoffs isn’t the most fun in the world. We’re really excited to be a part of it now and it’s everyone’s dream to have a shot at the Stanley Cup, it’s something to look forward to.
“Just from talking to Garth over the few years I’ve been here, he’s always been pretty adamant about sticking with us, letting us grow together. He believes in us as a group, and the coaching staff believes in what we had. It took time for us, I guess, to grow up a bit and learn to win those tight games.
“The one thing about a lot of guys on this team that a lot of people don’t realize is a lot of guys have overcome a lot of stuff adversity-wise -- you look at Grabs, being waived a couple times; Mouls, took till he was 26-27 to make the NHL and even a guy like Johnny [Tavares], who took so much criticism at such a young age, had a lot of pressure on him.
“We’ve been through a lot together and the last few years, with all the media that’s been all over us for the team we had, telling us we’re awful -- we’re pretty happy with where we are, and I think it’s made a close group of guys even tighter.”