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Alec Martinez Embraces Leadership Role with Team USA

'It's kind of cool to meet some of the younger guys and see the future of our game.'

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers / LAKings.com

Alec Martinez, who first suited up in the Red, White and Blue for the Americans at the 2018 IIHF World Championship in Denmark last spring, has another chance to medal with Team USA at the 2019 World Championship in Slovakia.

The 32-year-old had no hesitation to give it another go.

"I think it was a lot of things," Martinez said about his decision to play.

"It's a good opportunity to meet other guys. Obviously it wasn't that great of a season for LA. That leaves a little bit of a salty taste in your mouth and this is an opportunity to go into the summer with a little bit better feeling."

Instagram from @usahockey: Monday, am I right? #MensWorlds

"It's a fun tournament. You get to play with a lot of really good guys," Martinez said. "You get to meet guys around the league, coaches, play new systems. It's a good experience."

And an honor, too.

"That goes without being said," said Martinez, who had three points (one goal, two assists) in 10 games at the tournament last year and four points - all assists - through the opening seven games this year.

"Early on, I had been asked to come but I've had some personal injuries and things like that. When I was healthy and got the opportunity, I jumped on it."

It's an opportunity to compete. A chance to teach. And an occasion to learn, too.

Team USA is fielding one of the youngest teams in the tournament.

At 32, Martinez trails in seniority only to forward Derek Ryan of the Calgary Flames, defenseman Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild, and goalie Cory Scneider of the New Jersey Devils.

There are 11 players aged 22 or younger, including the projected No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, Jack Hughes, who was just 17 when the tournament started.

Tweet from @usahockey: Another year older, another year visor 😎 #MensWorlds | @jackhughes43 pic.twitter.com/RcVDhA2g08

The experience will help Martinez with the expected influx of Kings prospects like Rasmus Kupari, Akil Thomas, Sean Durzi and Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who would compliment the promising group of younger players fronted by Adrian Kempe, Carl Grundstrom and Austin Wagner.

"I think that as an older guy I just try to lead by example," Martinez said, wearing his familiar No. 27 after Anders Lee held the digits last May.

"I'm not going to say a whole lot. I'm just going to try to provide a good example for the young guys and as much as they're looking at us, we're looking at them. We can learn different things.

"They just have a young mindset. You see young guys like that, like Jack Hughes…it's no secret what kind of talent he is. That kid is going to play in the NHL for a really long time. It's kind of cool to meet some of the younger guys and see the future of our game."

Tweet from @usahockey: "Five Questions-Plus" with #TeamUSA defenseman @amartinez_27 and more in today's #MensWorlds notebook ������ https://t.co/X36F66Hz06 pic.twitter.com/IEGSaE4UaD

Given his experience, and title history, Martinez will be relied upon by American head coach Jeff Blashill.

"I've known Alec since he was a 17-year-old," said Blashill, who doubles as Detroit Red Wings skipper.

"I coached him with Team Michigan years and years ago. He's the same as what I've always thought. He's super consistent. Very, very smart. Very good defender. Moves the puck well. Another guy that's really even keel."

Maritnez, of course, has his bronze finish from 2018.

But, there's also a pair of Stanley Cups on his resume to further bolster a resume that has a Clark Cup as United States Hockey League champion with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders in 2005, and an NCAA Championship with the Miami University RedHawks.

"He's got a great way about him," Blashill said. "I've been pretty lucky that he's said yes the last couple years because he's just a guy that helps you win. He's done that consistently throughout the NHL. He's a really good hockey player. Real, real happy to have him."

Not to mention, he's also a great person.

Tweet from @alex_faust: 👏🇺 @amartinez_27 #GKG pic.twitter.com/SBxSjMirdC

Martinez, along with the younger players on the roster, will be put to the test.

Team USA will draw Russia, captained by Ilya Kovalchuk, in the tournament's quarterfinal on Thursday. The opportunity to play for a medal, regardless of color, lies in the balance.

"Certainly pulling Russia, the No. 1 seed in the other pool…you've seen their roster and how well they've played in this tournament…it's going to be a tough test for us," Blashill said. "I'm confident in our guys and I think that we certainly have to bring our 'A' game."

These types of games, he admitted, are what Martinez enjoys most.

"This is what you come here for," he said.

"You want to play in big games."

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