You haven’t transitioned much in your career from one organization to the next. That’s a credit to you in terms of stability. What’s this going to be like for you as you get ready for camp on day one?
Matt Martin: I’m excited. In some ways, it’s like being – I don’t want to say being a rookie all over again – but it’s a new beginning with new challenges. You want to have a good training camp and you want to have a positive impact. Most importantly, you just want to get to know your teammates and grow some chemistry together and get ready for the season together. There’s a great group in here. I’m excited to do something special with them.
Your dad is a big hockey fan. Where have his allegiances lied over the years? Was there ever Toronto in the mix, Matt?
Martin: He was a Wings fan, but my grandpa was a huge Leafs fan. My family was pretty divided growing up. He’s very excited for my opportunity here in Toronto. He’s always been a fan of Lamoriello and Babcock. He follows a lot of Leafs. Obviously, in Windsor, you get a lot of coverage of the Maple Leafs. He follows the team, even when I was in Long Island. Bottom line, he’s just a hockey fan. He’s excited for more media coverage and having the opportunity to see me a lot more. It’s the best market to be a part of in hockey. Hopefully we can do something special here and have a good run.
Do you see similarities here from your time on the Island with the young kids who have come through the system here?
Martin: Yeah, it’s a little different for me though. When I did it last time, I was the young guy coming up. There are a lot guys in here that make you feel pretty old at 27. No, I’m excited to play. There is a lot of young talent in this dressing room. A lot of great young players. It’s fun to be around. There is a lot of energy in here and a lot of emotion. Guys are just trying to crack into the league and are doing whatever they can to wear this sweater. Like I said, it’s a different perspective for me, but still an exciting one and a whole new experience.
Mike Babcock mentioned at the end of last year that there probably weren’t enough guys competing for jobs at the start of training camp as there were at the end of the year. Do you really sense that competition across the board this time around?
Martin: I think so, yeah. There are a lot of good young players. Obviously, there are some veterans guys that are here on PTOs and other things, and even guys with contracts are fighting for jobs. I mean, you’re never safe in this league. Bodies can be moved, traded, whatever it may be. We’ve got to be sharp; we’ve got to be ready to go here in training camp. It’s a fun time of the year, obviously, to enjoy. I haven’t been to Halifax, but I hear it’s beautiful. I’m looking forward to that. Most important thing is to come to work every day, and when you’re off, spend some time with your teammates and get to know everyone.
Given your experience on the Island and that line you played with, what’s the key to being a good third or fourth line in terms of being effective and helping out the rest of the team?
Martin: A few different things. For one, being all on the same page. I think simplicity is always nice. I think we were very good at understanding where we all wanted to be on the ice, and not having to look to know where guys are, and chipping pucks out, chipping picks in, and being reliable and predictable for one another. That was always huge. As a line, we always just worked hard. [Casey Czikas], [Cal Clutterbuck] were more skilled than they’re given credit for. We had a lot of fun together. Those are two guys I’ll definitely miss. I love them to death and I wish them well.
Is this as short of a haircut as you’ve had in a while?
Martin: Yeah, I think it’s been almost four years since I had short hair. It’s kind of my thing on Long Island. But new beginnings, new haircut, I guess. It’s definitely not in my eyes as much, so that’s a good thing.