Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Radek Martinek Up to the Challenge

Radek Martinek has not had an easy career since being drafted by the NY Islanders in the 8th round of the 1999 draft. In his eight NHL seasons, he has never been able to play a full season. His body bears the scars of devastating injury that cut each season short. The 2005-2006 season saw Radek on the ice for 74 games, the highest number of his career. Last season saw him for only 16 games. But this year everyone hopes things will be different.

With the loss of Mark Streit, Radek Martinek will become the defenseman that Scott Gordon relies on most for his experience. I asked Radek if he knew that Scott Gordon called him “Sensational” and one of the best kept secrets in the NHL in his post game interview Saturday night. While Jon Sim leaned against the locker room wall and snickered, Radek gave me a half smile and just simply said “No.”

In all the time that I have been around this team, I have never spoke with Martinek. The 32-year-old Czech was never much for interviews and in the early years, the rumor was the only English word he knew was “stick.” His English as well as his conditioning is vastly improved since those early days.

I asked him what he did differently to prepare for this season.

“Simple. I stayed here all summer working out with our strength and conditioning coach, Jesse Demers. Simple.”

Okay, we are back into “stick” territory.

The way he has worked out this summer and his rehab period he is hoping has prepared him. “I knew it was a good thing to stay here and work out here because I need a little bit, shoulder (to lean on) how to work out after those injuries.”

And Radek’s dependence on his trainer has paid off big dividends for him. He has never looked stronger. Especially against the Devils where he draped Ilya Kovalchuk and helped to keep him off the score sheet. Radek will be facing all the top scorers this season (as long as he is healthy). That is a lot of pressure. I asked if he is ready for it. With a sly smile he told me, “Of course I am ready for it. It is a challenge and I am game for it. It is a challenge to play against those guys. I am ready. I am looking forward to it.’

The Islander fans are looking forward to it as well. But there is always that doubt. We can’t help it. I asked him if he has any good luck charms he will utilize, But not really.

“I can say I would try anything. But there is nothing. Just don’t worry about an injury and hard work.”

Redek has his work cut out for him in so many ways.

Today my favorite hockey writer, John Buccigross posted his 30 team predictions. While his thoughts about the Islanders were not what a fan would want to hear, they were honest. Certainly there are some things that are positive for this team, but there are so many factors that come into play that make the dark clouds gather over another season.

If this is the time that everyone begins to make their predictions about where teams will finish in April, as much as there is hope, I hate to say but I will certainly be carefully researching the top five draft picks of 2011. The loss of Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo has seriously effected my optimism for this season. Add to that the October loss of Rob Schremp and it calls to mind Denis Potvin’s Radio gold when he said “Every point lost in October is worth three in March.” Yep. Not much hope here.

And with a rag-tag camp Scott Gordon has not had much time to develop chemistry in this team. And with only four more days until home opener, I’m guessing we don’t have our usual MSG special.

Also tonight is the news that the NY Islanders are trying to finalize a deal with Hofsra University for this year's radio broadcast. Someone please remind me -- what year is this.

1 comment:

Travelchic59 said...

Very happy to see Martinek back and healthy. I hope his health lasts all season. I agree that he is a very UNDERATED defenseman. We desperately need him to play all season. Keeping my fingers crossed for him.