The New York Islanders and National Hockey League announced that forward Matt Martin has been named a finalist for the NHL Foundation Player Award. The NHL Foundation Player Award is awarded annually by the National Hockey League, to a player "who applies the core values of hockey- commitment, perseverance and teamwork- to enrich the lives of the people in the community."
Matt Martin is known on the ice as a hard hitting, honest forward who plays the game the right way, while leading the NHL in hits in each of the last four seasons. However, his physical presence isn't the only thing that makes him a special player. Martin's energetic and hard-working style of play, makes him a force as a hockey player, but is the same qualities that have made him a valued member in the community. Martin's contributions to the community have included the following:
- In September, the Islanders forward launched the Matt Martin Foundation. Martin's goal for the foundation is to help generate financial support and awareness for causes that affect those closest to him. Martin kicked-off his new Foundation, with a Poker Night fundraiser that raised $45,000 to support his various charities. In his first year, Martin has helped raise over $75,000 to help those in need. The Foundation is currently helping organizations such as the NYPD Widows and Children's Fund, the Association for Children with Down Syndrome (ACDS), the Boomer Esiason Foundation for Cystic Fibrosis and the Islanders Children's Foundation.
- Martin, the NHL's all-time single season hits leader, began the "Matt Martin Hit Foundation" to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis Research. Martin has designed a program where fans to pledge money to the Matt Martin Foundation for each hit he has during the 2015-16 season. All proceeds will go directly to the Boomer Esiason Foundation for Cystic Fibrosis Research. Martin modeled his "Hit Fund" after former NFL quarterback, Boomer Esiason's "Fighting Cystic Fibrosis" Fund. Martin's friend and Esiason's son, Gunnar, has CF. Martin will donate approximately $6,000 by the end of the 2015-16 season.
- The Windsor, Ontario native began visiting with military families in 2011, working with Defending the Blue Line, an organization that ensures "that children of military members are afforded every opportunity to participate in the game of hockey." After each home game for the past five seasons, Martin invites a member from the Defending the Blue Line program, to be his guest for the game. Martin provides tickets to the game and a chance to spend some time with him after the game. Through his five years of work with DTBL, Martin has donated various items for fundraising events and has even attended charity functions for the organization.
- This season, Martin began his work with the NYPD Widows & Children's Foundation, an organization that provides aid and assistance to widows/widowers of police officers who have lost their loved ones in the line of duty. Similar to his work with the DTBL, Martin invited guest to Islanders home games from the NYPD Widows & Children Foundation to be his guest. Martin's guests from the NYPD Widows & Children's Fund, have all lost a family member while serving in the line of duty with the New York Police Department.
- Martin ran a free hockey clinic in Brooklyn in December (2015) to give children the opportunity to learn the game and develop their skills. At the clinic, Martin's foundation also donated $5,000 to the NYC PBA Widows & Children's fund. This summer, Martin will launch a series of Matt Martin Hockey Camps, similar to the one in December, where the seven-year NHL forward will visit rinks across Long Island, to teach kids the game of hockey.
- Another pillar of the Matt Martin foundation is ACDS (formerly known as the Association for Children with Down Syndrome). This summer Martin developed a connection with an ACDS school on Long Island, after meeting a neighbor whose daughter had Down Syndrome. Shortly after they met, Martin incorporated ACDS into the Matt Martin Foundation's four major causes. In January, Martin donated two SMART boards to the school in Plainview, NY ($12,000).The ACDS school's mission is to "provide lifetime resources of exceptional quality, innovation and inclusion for individuals with Down Syndrome, other developmental disabilities and their families."
- Martin is an active member at the Islanders' team community events like Islanders' School Day and the annual holiday hospital visits. Islanders' School Day is an event where players travel to schools across Long Island to talk to students about the importance of education, anti- bullying and staying physically active. The annual Islanders' hospital visits take place in December and let players shop for and deliver toys to children in local hospitals around the holidays.
- This season Martin donated $1,500 to Maya's Rainbow, a cause set up for Maya Rachel Cohen who passed away after she passed away from a rare and hidden heart condition in December. The five-year old girl was a spunky, diehard Islanders fan. Her family started a fundraiser called "Maya's Rainbow" to give children creative arts-and-crafts opportunities at the JCC Metrowest in West Orange, N.J., where Maya attended preschool and kindergarten. Martin's generous donation helped the family inch towards their goal of $10,000.
- Martin also takes part in several NHL and Islanders Children's Foundation fundraisers that have helped raise millions of dollars to help those in need. This year, Martin and his foundation have donated approximately $30,000 to the ICF . The various charities events include the team's annual golf outing and casino night which go towards supporting the Islanders' Children's Foundation.
- Martin also takes part in the NHL's Hockey Fights Cancer month every October. This season, Martin hosted an event at the NHL Store in Manhattan where he brought in two children battling cancer for a shopping event at the store, and then held a Hockey Fights Cancer Q&A session with fans.
- Along with his work included in the Matt Martin Foundation, Martin also donated $5,000 to Multiple Sclerosis research in January.
Joining Martin as a finalist for the prestigious award is Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban and Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano. The NHL will select the winner at the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas in June.