Penguins' Martin is hoping to finally get on ice in Winter Olympics
Sidney Crosby's “Golden Goal” in the 2010 Olympics broke the hearts of Team USA and its fans.
No one, however, felt the sting quite like Penguins defenseman Paul Martin.
A lock to play in Vancouver, Martin missed the tournament because of a broken arm.
Normally among hockey's most reserved players, Martin has admitted to being crushed by his inability to play in those Olympics. So he was excited to see his name on the invitation list to the team's orientation camp in August, and many believe Martin is certain to make the 2014 Olympics.
“I am honored to have this opportunity,” Martin said.
Martin's strong 2013 season seems to have cemented his chance to make the team, which is being selected by a group that includes Penguins coach Dan Bylsma and general manager Ray Shero.
Coming off two subpar seasons with the Penguins, Martin justified the five-year, $25 million deal he signed in 2010 despite playing only 34 games in the 48-game schedule because of a hand injury. Martin tied a career high with six goals and produced 23 points. He finished with a plus-14 rating.
Martin played through a significant injury in the playoffs and was one of the Penguins' most effective performers, finishing with 11 points in 15 games. He and fellow American defenseman Brooks Orpik formed one of the league's finest tandems.
And the two could play together in Sochi.
“I wouldn't mind being paired with anyone,” Martin said with a laugh, noting his primary desire just making the team. “But I would enjoy playing with Brooksie.”
Martin has come tantalizingly close to representing his country in the Olympics, and at 32, this could represent his final chance.
In Torino in 2006, Martin was named to Team USA but never played.
A broken arm sustained in October of 2009 — the injury was the result of blocking a shot fired by former Penguins forward Bill Guerin — while he was playing for New Jersey kept Martin from playing in Vancouver.
“It was definitely tough being named to the team and having to watch because of an injury,” Martin said. “Especially after traveling to Torino for the Olympics four years earlier.”
Martin has many things in his favor entering the 2014 games.
Bylsma and Shero are helping to select this team, and both have shown loyalty to Martin. Shero could have traded him last summer but chose to believe in Martin.
“He had a great season,” Shero said.
Also, Martin's physical attributes seem to make him a natural for the Olympics. The larger ice surface favors strong skaters.
“He would have been on the ice in 2010,” Team USA general manager David Poile said.
American teams have struggled on large, international ice surfaces.
“We know we want to have a team that can skate well,” Team USA and Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato said. “That's important and part of the talent evaluation process.”
There is no question Martin meets the qualifications to play for Team USA. Now, he needs to stay healthy so he can realize a lifelong dream.
“I am looking forward to the challenge of earning a spot,” Martin said.
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
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