It was a summer to remember for Matt Martin. The Islanders forward experienced everything from wedding season festivities, including his own spectacular wedding out in Southampton, to a honeymoon spent in Greece and hosted events for his foundation. Martin had a jam-packed summer to say the least, but he still managed to put in the necessary work during his busier-than-normal offseason.
"I had my bachelor party [in Las Vegas] with a lot of guys from the team," Martin said. "I got some skating in before the wedding, we went to [Thomas Hickey's] wedding the weekend after and then went to Greece for 10 days. When I got back, I went straight into training. It's been kind of a hectic summer. I started with the skating and harder training a little earlier so I wouldn't lose any time, but it was one of the best summers ever."
Martin wed long-term girlfriend Sydney Esiason, daughter of former NFLer and New York Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason, at Sebonack Golf Club on June 29. The venue featured picturesque views that overlooked the Great Peconic Bay while the guest list was comprised of the majority of the Islanders roster, movie stars like Kevin Connolly, and even had a special appearance by Long Island-favorite Carvel Ice Cream's Fudgie the Whale. When the Mayor of Long Island gets married, he does it big.
"The setting was awesome," Martin recalled. "It was a beautiful night. There was a beautiful sunset. Obviously, Sydney stood out the most. She was absolutely stunning and watching her walk down the aisle was a pretty special thing. Just having all of your family and friends around to celebrate our relationship was really, really special. There's nothing quite like it."
Martin's wedding was a chance for the Isles to reunite over the summer, which was a month shorter after the team's berth to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The day-to-day of the hockey season can be consuming, so the offseason reminds the players how valuable those friendships they've cultivated with one another throughout the year really are.
"We always have a lot of fun," Martin said. "The most fun weddings for me when all of the guys are there. We obviously spend a lot of time together during the season and have all gotten so close. [During the season] it's business trips and we're working so you don't get to let loose like that. Everyone does their own thing in the offseason, but it's always fun to get the group together for things like weddings."
A couple of weeks following his big day, Martin and his wife spent their honeymoon in Greece, making stops in Athens, Mykonos and Santorini. In Athens, the couple toured the Parthenon and learned about Ancient Greece, Greek mythology and the Persian War. Martin, who is a self-proclaimed fan of the Greek warrior Achilles, enjoyed the firsthand history lessons before isle hopping through the Aegean Sea. The couple then spent three days exploring the island of Mykonos and all of the indulgences it has to offer from food, to night life, views and culture. And to cap off the 10-day celebratory trip, the Martins enjoyed the romantic setting of Santorini. Notably, Martin admired the breathtaking cliffs and exquisite white marble architecture, some reprieve after a few months of training.
"It's funny when you're away on the honeymoon, it's July, so you are kind of stressing out a bit," Martin said. "We're training pretty hard right now. Having that 10 days, I mean I still worked out, but I kind of let my body recover from all of the training before and when I felt back, I felt really good and was ready to get back to work."
Most players return to their hometowns for the offseason, but Martin, who is a Windsor, Ontario native, is one of the few players that remains on Long Island for summer, along Hickey while Josh Bailey and Cal Clutterbuck spend part of their summers here. Martin used to be the only one who stuck around, but he's actively tried to grow the year-round crew. Plus, it gives him more offseason workout partners.
"We have a pretty good program here," Martin said. "[Strength and Conditioning Coach] Derrek [Douglas] and [Director of Sports Performance] Sean [Donellan] do a good job. I've been on that program now, even when I went to Toronto I was on their program, so it's been a decade of using their stuff. I've always liked it and continue to use it... It gets a little lonely here in the summer, but we're recruiting more guys. [Josh Bailey] is almost here year-round, [Cal Clutterbuck] is almost here year-round, we're slowly keeping guys around here. Guys poke in and out throughout the summer."
Martin's summer also included his annual week-long hockey camp from Aug. 19-23 and his annual Poker Night is upcoming on Sept. 5, both of which are part of his foundation. The poker event signals the de facto end of summer, as do the informal skates at Northwell Health Ice Center, especially with teammates like Thomas Greiss and Semyon Varlamov joining the fold. With training camp just weeks away, Martin has narrowed his focus towards his detailed regimen and returning to the routine of hockey season, so daily skates with teammates are a part of that and a sure sign that the start of the 2019-20 season is just around the corner.
"We have a tight group," Martin said. "We spend a lot of time together. I think that helps us out when we're on the ice. We want to play for each other. [Barry Trotz] and [Lou Lamoriello] are very big on it being a family and it being all about the team. I think we have a group of guys here where that's what it's all about for us as well. Everyone cares for each other. Everyone wants each other to succeed. I can't say that happens everywhere. Here, it's a pretty tight group. We all have one goal; we just want to win. Whoever gets going on any given night Trotz is going to go with. We don't get selfish. We just wanted to get back to work this summer. We enjoy the summer while we're off, but we're all excited to get back on the ice and hopefully have a lot of success this summer."