Sacrificing his body for a record-setting 361 hits, Matt Martin
won’t get any hardware from the National Hockey League. But Martin’s black and blue body, and all-out physical style of play has won over the hearts of Islanders fans, who voted Martin the winner of the 2012 Bob Nystrom Award.
The annual Islanders prize is given to the player “who best exemplifies leadership, hustle and dedication.”
|Matt Martin is presented the Bob Nystrom award by Nystrom. "It's a huge honor," Martin said. |
“It’s a huge honor,” Martin said. “I pride myself on being a hard-working player. There are definitely a lot of guys in the room that could have won it, but I’m happy it was me.”
The 22-year-old winger beat out John Tavares
by 20 votes to claim this year’s prize. Martin’s willingness to throw the body and go hard on every shift endeared him to teammates and fans alike.
“I think I’m a pretty physical player, so the fans like that,” he said. “I try to go out there and give it my all every shift and give my best effort.”
While he didn’t vote, Nystrom was happy to see Martin receive the award.
“I really wanted to see this kid win,” Nystrom said. “Because he’s just a hard-working, tough, real rough-nosed guy and I like that. The fans made a great choice here.”
Despite the surge in body checks this season, Martin is walking the right side of a fine line between disciplined, effective checker and penalty-taking liability. Last season he amassed 147 PIM in 68 games, down to 111 in 77 this year. Subtract 75 minutes due to fighting-related infractions (13 majors, one misconduct) and he’s only taken 18 minors this season.
In addition, the physical winger’s seven goals so far set a new, early career high in his second full season with the Islanders.
It’s a huge honor,” Martin said. “I pride myself on being a hard-working player. There are definitely a lot of guys in the room that could have won it, but I’m happy it was me.” - Matt Martin
Off the ice, the personable Martin joined Defending the Blue Line, a military non-profit group, and started a program to bring military veterans and their families to Islanders games. Veterans and families received recognition during every game of the year and enjoyed a personal meet-and-greet with Martin following each game. Win or lose, Martin was happy to give back to everyday heroes on Long Island.
“I get along with everyone and I love to get involved with the community and do things like that,” Martin said.
Charity work is a hallmark of Nystrom’s legacy on Long Island, making the comparison all the more fitting.
The last two winners of the award, Frans Nielsen
and Kyle Okposo
, can both attest to how hard it is to repeat as an award winner. The only player to win in consecutive seasons was Claude LaPointe, who won the Nystrom a record three times (1997, 1999 & 2000).