Like his captain John Tavares, Matt Martin didn't take any large, metal souvenirs home from the NHL Award Show tonight. But he did get a nice trip to Las Vegas and recognition for his good works.
Calgary captain Mark Giordano was named the winner of the NHL Foundation Player Award for community service. Martin and Montreal's P.K. Subban were the other two finalists.
All three guys deserve enormous amounts of credit for giving of themselves (and, often, their money) and using their status as pro athletes to better their communities in many wonderful ways.
Martin seems like he'd be an unlikely presence at an NHL Awards Show since he's known around the league more for hits and fights than goals and assists. But the NHL Foundation Player Award is about celebrating off-ice efforts, and Martin is one of the league's hardest-working players in that arena, too.
The list of initiatives Martin has lent his name, time and energy to is very extensive, and covers everything from medical issues to military and law enforcement groups to hockey clinics and everything in between. In the last year alone, his Matt Martin Foundation has raised money for the NYPD Widows and Children's Fund, the Association for Children with Down Syndrome (ACDS), the Boomer Esiason Foundation for Cystic Fibrosis and the Islanders Children's Foundation. He's worked with Defending the Blueline, Maya's Rainbow, Hockey Fights Cancer and the Islanders community team, raising funds, donating money and/or meeting with fans whenever he's needed. Most recently, he's hosted a hockey clinic in Brooklyn and will officially open a series of Matt Martin youth hockey camps this summer. And that's just scratching the surface.
In an ironic twist, this awards show appearance might be Martin's last official act as a New York Islander. He's an unrestricted free agent this summer and will probably not be re-signed as the team looks to shake up its roster.
As a player, he isn't everyone's cup of tea. But as a person, Matt Martin is one of the most generous and humanitarian players the Islanders have ever had. Whichever community he calls home is a lucky one.