After the whirlwind week that followed the Los Angeles Kings’ Stanley Cup victory, who could blame Alec Martinez if he wants something a little more low key for his day with the Cup.
That’s why Martinez will opt to spend his moment with family and close friends at his new offseason home in the Dallas suburbs, far from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and the excitement that came with bringing the Cup to Los Angeles for the first time in the organization’s 45-year history.
“When you win something like that you want to be able to enjoy it, but you want to be able to enjoy it with the people you care about and let them enjoy it, too,” said the 25-year-old defenseman who wrapped up his second full season with the Kings in style.
“I think I’ll just have a party with my close friends and family there, along with some of my old coaches who helped me out a lot along the way. Maybe I’ll squeeze in a quick nine holes or something with it, but other than that it will probably just be a low-key day.”
As is the case with most athletes, it took a small village to help Martinez achieve his dream. From his early days in the Detroit Skating Club, through his formative years in youth hockey, first in San Jose with the Jr. Sharks and then with Honeybaked back home in Detroit, Martinez is as quick to dish out praise for his development as he is to make a breakout pass to trigger the Kings’ rush.
While his development was full of twists and turns, one thing Martinez was always sure of was that he would follow the collegiate route to pursue his hockey dream. The best way to achieve that was to hone his craft in the United States Hockey League.
“I always planned on going to college,” Martinez said. “The USHL was huge for that. I think that it’s probably still the best Junior league. I don’t know what the percentage is, but I would imagine that most of the guys who play in that league go on to D-I programs.”
Playing for Mark Carlson and the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders helped pave the way for Martinez to play college hockey while getting a first-rate education at Miami University.
“The coaching staff is pretty much the reason why I decided to go there. I felt that they really wanted me, and I wanted to be a part of an up and coming program,” Martinez said of playing for Miami head coach Enrico Blasi, who has built a powerhouse program in his 13 years there.
“It is one of the greatest places in the world. I developed a lot of great friendships there. I learned a lot on the hockey side of it. It’s a great school too, and I got a great education.”
As easy a decision as it was to go there, it was gut wrenching to leave after three years to begin his professional career. One thing that helped smooth the waters was Martinez’s promise to his parents that he would return to school to finish his accounting degree.
“Ever since I signed I’ve been taking classes and online courses, trying to stay diligent with it. It’s pretty difficult to go back but I’m just slowly but surely chipping away at it” he said.
“You obviously need that to fall back on because hockey is not going to last forever.”
As Martinez soon found out, his education was just beginning. Moving through the talent-rich Kings’
organization proved to be a challenge for Martinez, who finally earned a full-time position with the Kings in 2010.
“I know it’s cliché, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said. “You learn a lot and it makes you appreciate where I’m at now.”
For the time being, Martinez is looking to enjoy a little time with the Cup before getting back to work.
As any Stanley Cup champion knows, the offseason is short enough, but when you head into the new season with a bulls-eye on your chest you have to be ready.
“It’s going to be a shorter summer, but I’m certainly all right with that considering what happened,” Martinez said.
“I’ll continue to enjoy it, but now it’s back to reality. I’ll start working out soon and start thinking about next season. That week was definitely the best time of my life, and I’ll never forget it.”
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
Fort Worth, Texas
When Cameron was told that his family would be moving from his home in the Springfield, Mass., area to Forth Worth, he issued an ultimatum. If there was no hockey in Texas, then he wouldn’t be moving. Fortunately for the Colberg clan, there are a number of outstanding hockey programs in Texas, including the Forth Worth area. So far it’s been a good fit as Cameron has excelled on the ice, on the baseball field and in the classroom. Recently, he helped his mother collect letters from all the third grade classes in his school to thank the local firefighters, police and emergency medical technicians for the holidays.