The smooth-skating Martin collected five goals and 27 assists in 2007-08, his fourth NHL season.newjerseydevils.com –
When asked what individual goals he would like to achieve during his National Hockey League career, Paul Martin was stumped.
The defenseman is coming off a season in which his 32 points led all Devils blueliners, but his agenda remains unchanged. Rather than work toward personal accomplishments, the Minneapolis native instead wants a shot at bringing the Stanley Cup back to New Jersey.
In the latest installment of Devils Q&A, Martin also discusses breaking up a one-on-one, developing chemistry with fellow defender Johnny Oduya, and rooming with Hall-of-Famer Scott Stevens. What are some things that you think will improve on the Devils this year, with the changes made during the offseason?
East Hanover, N.J.
I’m excited. I think that with Brian Rolston – I’m a big fan of Rollie, having watched him play over the years – he’ll bring some goal-scoring punch to the lineup. Obviously he and Bobby Holik have been in New Jersey before, and Holik will bring size and experience. I’m looking forward to having them on the team; I think they’ll both help a lot.What is your favorite pastime during the offseason?
I enjoy golfing and going to watch baseball games. I get to see the Twins every once in a while. When I have some time, I like to go up north to do some fishing, although I wasn’t able to this summer. I’d say those would be the top three. Who was your favorite player to watch when you were growing up, and who do you think is the best player in the league right now?
I enjoyed watching Neal Broten and Brian Leetch, and right now the best in the game is probably a toss-up between Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. You can’t forget about guys like Joe Thornton and Henrik Zetterberg, but I’d probably go with Ovechkin. Have you been to any amusement parks this summer? Are there any rides that you absolutely won't go on, or are you fearless?
I don’t know if I’m fearless, but I’m not too scared of rides. There’s a place called Valley Fair in southern Minnesota that I went to once this summer. I don’t have any problems with roller coasters. We went on one ride called the Power Tower that takes you 25 stories up and drops you into a freefall, and I’d say that was one of the best. How often do you get recognized in public?
Not too often in New Jersey, but I’m not out and about too much there. I get recognized a little more in Minnesota because I grew up here, played hockey here, and still work out on campus at the University of Minnesota. So I see more people that know me here than I do in New Jersey.What is your favorite all-time hockey-related movie? What is your favorite all-time movie overall?
I’m sure everyone says Slapshot, but I’m going to go with Youngblood. For all-time movie I’ll go with The Usual Suspects. Old School is another one I watch a lot during the season.What has been your all-time favorite concert?
Elk River, Minn.
Too many come to mind. I saw Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood last year at Madison Square Garden, and that was great. I saw moe. two years ago at Radio City, which was solid. I’m a big Neil Young fan, but I’ve never seen him live. This year he’s playing at the Garden, but I’ve already checked the schedule and we'll be in Toronto for a game. I'm also a fan of Phish, and my best Phish concert was at Camden before they went up to Coventry [in 2004]. What’s your best advice for being able to break up a one-on-one?
Be patient and make the forward come to you. Try to get your stick on their stick so they can’t get a shot off.What is the worst hotel experience you've ever had on the road?
Englewood Cliffs, N.J.
I’ve had good roommates for the most part, but when I was a first-year player I roomed with Scott Stevens. Obviously, I was scared for the fact that I was with Scotty, although I’m sure they did that because I was still a young kid. We had an early lights out – I’d say it was 9 p.m., after he was done reading a book – so I was left staring into the dark. Might have even been an 8 p.m. lights-out... he always went to bed early. I didn’t know what to do because I couldn’t sleep. My room assignment got switched eventually, but when I was with Scotty it was lights out at like 8 or 9 p.m.Do you like to keep any of your equipment from over the years?
Glen Cove, N.Y.
Typically hockey players wear the same stuff until they can’t wear it any more. I don’t have any problems hanging on to stuff, but most of my equipment was new within the last couple of years. I’ve had the same shoulder pads since high school, so that would be the oldest piece of equipment that I still use. Do you use a stiff stick or would you rather it have more flex?
I use a medium flex that’s right in between. I don’t like the sticks that are too whippy or the ones that are too stiff, but sometimes I mix it up. I don’t have a certain one that I use all the time. How does it feel to come out of the tunnel at The Rock and hear everyone cheering for you and your teammates?
It feels great. I think last year was the best it has been since I’ve gotten to New Jersey. It’s always a good feeling; it gives you the chills.
In the 2008 World Championships, how did it feel to have Brandon Dubinsky from the Rangers with you on Team USA after having just competed against him in the playoffs?
South Brunswick N.J.
It’s tough at first, considering your season ended against the Rangers. But once you actually get to meet guys on other teams and work together for international competition, you kind of put those things behind you and focus on playing for Team USA. I got to know him a little bit, and he’s not a bad guy. At first it’s a little awkward, but once you get used to it, you’re both playing for the same thing.Your pairing with Johnny Oduya turned out to be one of the highlights of last season. Why do you think you two worked so well together?
Red Bank, N.J.
I think we worked well together because we both skate well. We don’t try to do too much, and we communicate well. After a while, when you play alongside someone for a certain amount of time, you learn what they’re going to do and what you’re each going to do in certain situations. He’s as good a guy off the ice as he is on, so it’s easy to go over things with him.
Can you comment on head coach Brent Sutter’s style with the players?
I think he holds everyone accountable, no matter who you are. He’s hard-nosed and tough, which is good for keeping guys in line and playing hard. At the same time, I think he respects his players if they work hard for him. There are times throughout the year that he’s easier to talk to, but everyone’s there to win and he makes sure that everyone’s on the same page. What type of diet are you on now that the season is right around the corner?
East Hanover, N.J.
At this time of year, you start to get back into the stuff that you eat during the season. You get back into the pasta and the chicken that, once the season’s over, you stay away from because you eat so much of it during the year. Now you have to pick it up again so you can get your carbs and protein. During the offseason I love Chipotle... the burritos and the tacos. Can’t get enough. I’ll have it once in a while during the season, but you can’t have it too often.
Aside from the obvious – winning the Stanley Cup – what goal would you like to accomplish before your NHL career comes to an end?
To be honest, I think that’s the main goal. I want to play as long as I can until I can raise the Cup. I don’t have individual goals that I set for myself, really just the team as far as getting into the Finals and winning the Cup.