OXFORD, Ohio - Every hockey player dreams of it. Hoisting the Stanley Cup after winning hockey's ultimate prize. And for every player that hoists Lord Stanley's Cup, they also get The Cup to themselves for an entire day. On Friday, former RedHawk Alec Martinez ('09), who won the Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings in June, will have his date with The Cup.
"I get it for a full day. I can take it anywhere I want in the world and they will deliver it to me," Martinez explained while attending Miami's Pro Camp last week.
Although several RedHawk fans and players had hoped it might make an appearance in Oxford, Martinez is spending his day with the Stanley Cup in his relatively new home in Allen, Texas, just outside of Dallas. He plans on going golfing with The Cup Friday morning before having a pool party at his new pad in the afternoon. Several of his Miami teammates will be in attendance, along with other friends and family as they celebrate Martinez and the Kings' accomplishment.
"The coolest part about it is sharing it with people you care about and, without sounding too sappy, that is what it really boils down to. To be able to share that with my family and friends, I got people coming in from all over," Martinez said. "It's pretty tough to plan all by yourself. I am almost treating it like a wedding. I am getting a photographer and this and that. I want it documented as I certainly hope not, but it could be not just my last but the only time I have an opportunity like this. There's a lot going into it but it's going to be a lot of fun and I can't wait."
The Rochester Hills, Mich., native earned his date with The Cup when the Kings defeated the New Jersey Devils June 11, 6-1, in game six of the Stanley Cup Finals to clinch the series, 4-2. Martinez became just the third RedHawk to win The Cup and joins Dan Boyle ('98), who won The Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004, and Kevyn Adams ('96), who hoisted it with Carolina in 2006, as the only former Miami players to get a whole day with the Stanley Cup.
Martinez played a big role for the Kings in the playoffs in just his second full season with the team (and in the NHL) and third overall with Los Angeles. The defenseman played in all 20 playoff games, helping L.A. to a 16-4 postseason record, while totaling three points on a goal and two assists. He also had a +5 rating while collecting eight penalty minutes. During the Stanley Cup Finals, Martinez helped limit the Devils to just eight goals in six games and had a positive plus/minus rating in three of the six games, posting a +3 rating in the Finals.
"A lot of people don't ever get the opportunity to maybe even compete for (The Cup) let alone win it, but for me to do that just a few of years into my career, it's pretty crazy," Martinez admitted. "It was a long battle, we had some well documented ups and downs as a team last year, but we were able to pull it together and come together at the right time."
Of Martinez's three points, two came in the Finals, including his first career NHL Playoff goal. He scored the goal in game three on June 4, a 4-0 Kings win, and his goal was the game-winner since he scored the first goal of the night. The blueliner picked up his second assist of the playoffs in game two of the Finals June 2 in New Jersey, handing out a helper on the Kings' overtime goal that gave them a 2-1 victory. His first point of the 2012 playoffs came in L.A.'s first game April 11 as he had an assist in the Kings' 4-2 victory over top-seeded Vancouver.
"The playoffs are a really emotional time. There's such a large build up that you really could say it starts at the very beginning of the season, but, like I said, we had those ups and downs then we had the coaching change. We were battling for a playoff spot coming down to crunch time and then you have the playoffs themselves," Martinez said. "It's a pretty emotional, revved up time and to be able to win it at the end there. It's an unbelievable feeling and it feels like everything comes to a head. It's a burst of emotion being around all the guys and seeing the other guys, some of the older guys hoist the cup. It's a really special moment to have people there that you care about like my family."
Martinez confessed his goal was not a thing of beauty and that he was actually out of position. The Kings forced and turnover and went on a rush the other way. After Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur stopped the initial shot, Martinez crashed to the net on the back door and was able to poke the puck under Brodeur's leg pad and into the net on the right post.
"It was pretty exciting scoring that goal. I scored my first playoff goal and to have it come in the Stanley Cup Finals against a goaltender like Marty Brodeur, that's pretty cool," Martinez said.
Martinez wasn't the only former RedHawk playing in the Stanley Cup Finals, however. New Jersey defenseman Andy Greene ('06) suited up for Miami from 2002-06 and the two even played one year together at Miami, when Greene was a senior and Martinez a freshman. That RedHawk team (2005-06) won the CCHA regular-season title, just the second Miami team to ever do so (at the time), going 26-9-4 overall and 20-6-2 in league play.
Greene played in all 24 playoff games for the Devils. He notched his lone assist of the postseason April 15 against the Florida Panthers in the first round and had a +1 rating for the playoffs. Although the former RedHawk defensemen do keep in touch regularly, they did not talk the entire NHL Playoffs until meeting in the handshake line following the Kings' Cup-clinching victory.
"We won't talk about the Finals. I will probably stay away from that topic of conversation," Martinez said of his future encounters with Greene. "He's a great guy and we're great buddies. It's not awkward or anything like that."
The NHLers recently saw each other again when they both returned to Oxford for Miami's second annual Pro Camp, which was held Aug. 20-24. Several former Miami players came back for the camp, 20 in all, including seven with NHL experience, as they prepare for their upcoming professional season.
"A lot of these guys you haven't seen for a while, you see some of them playing against them throughout the season -- some of them you haven't seen for a year and to be able to come back here. This place is incredible," Martinez said of Pro Camp. "We're working hard but we're having fun too. Last year was our first year (of Pro Camp) and we got nothing but good reports and good praise. The guys loved it and I am really happy we are doing it. I am certainly not going to miss it. I am going to be coming for a few years."
Along with seeing his former college teammates and getting to return to Miami, Martinez did see one more perk about Pro Camp.
"It's kind of cool too because they (coaches) can go out there and run practice and if you make a bad play, they can't really get on you because you don't play for them anymore," Martinez joked.
Once Pro Camp finished last Friday however, Martinez quickly turned his attention back to planning his date with the Stanley Cup. While he'll enjoy his day with it Friday, he can only hope he gets a second date. If not, perhaps Greene, or another former RedHawk, will get to have his date with The Cup in the coming years.