Los Angeles found a new hero last night in defenseman Alec Martinez. But who is this 26-year-old blueliner and where did he come from? You may be surprised to hear he was a Shark before he became a King.
It's the question many casual fans are asking this morning – and the one Chicago Blackhawks fans would rather not hear about: Who is Alec Martinez?
Though he was the most anonymous member of the Kings blueline, Martinez now finds himself in the spotlight after tossing the game-winning shot on net in overtime as Los Angeles won its third straight Game 7 on the road:
Born in Michigan, Martinez actually played some hockey in California as a youngster when his father was transferred out west for a job. So before he was a King, Martinez was a member of the San Jose (Jr.) Sharks.
The defenseman tasted success early in his career, winning a United States League championship with Cedar Rapids before heading off to Miami University. He would become a stalwart with the RedHawks, earning defensive defenseman of the year conference honors as a junior and signing with the Kings a year early.
Martinez, who can also contribute on the offensive side of the ice, would play a full season in the American League with Manchester before getting in his first NHL games during the 2009-10 campaign. Staying in the L.A. lineup was a slow process and the young blueliner went back to the farm team several times in the ensuing campaigns. Consistency has been an issue and even this year, he was a healthy scratch for more than a dozen contests.
But Martinez can skate and move the puck while playing a simple game, so when he does put it all together, he can help his squad. And given that the Kings have played the maximum 21 games possible so far in the post-season, that depth is paying off. Just ask the Blackhawks.