Paul Martin has been a Pittsburgh Penguins stalwart and fan favorite for a number of years.
After being drafted in the 2nd round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, he played for the New Jersey Devils before arriving in Pittsburgh in 2010.
He was also one the prize unrestricted free agent defensemen this year, ultimately signing with the San Jose Sharks a few days ago.
He wrote a great Farewell to Pittsburgh article on the Players Tribune. Definitely worth a read. Here are a few highlights:
My time in Pittsburgh came to an end yesterday when I signed with the San Jose Sharks, and guys like Rob Scuderi and Marc-Andre Fleury are part of what make it so tough to move on. Before coming here, I had spent my entire career in New Jersey. I had never been the new guy before, and in a lot of ways I think that was a challenge. Guys always talk about how it’s tough to go to a new team, but it’s especially awkward when you move to a team in your same division. When I came in and saw Max Talbot, I had a gut reaction, like “Man, I can’t stand playing against this guy.” I battled him for six years in New Jersey. Nobody on other teams likes Max because he’s so good at what he does.
A few weeks later, Max became one of my best friends in the room.
I came to Pittsburgh because I wanted to win a Stanley Cup, and even though it’s really disappointing that we never achieved that goal, I’m so thankful for my five years in Pittsburgh. I built a lot of friendships and grew a lot as a person.
I could go on forever, but there’s a few guys I’d like to thank.
I remember we all ordered lunch one time and Matt Cooke had all these bags of Five Guys burgers delivered. The look on Brooks’ face was unreal.
Marc-Andre Fleury: Nobody comes to the rink in a better mood or with a bigger smile. For Flower to be such a positive, great person despite all the pressure of being the No. 1 goaltender on a Stanley Cup contender year after year is just amazing to me. He just wants guys to enjoy the game, and his goofiness reminds you that we’re all really lucky to be playing a kid’s game for a living. If there was a prank going on, Flower was probably behind it. He’s always the first one out on the ice, but whenever a rookie gets called up for their first game, Flower comes up to them and says, “Hey, we’re going to let you be the first one out tonight.” This year, one of the rookies came firing out all excited and Flower pulled up and stopped at the gate. So the kid was doing a couple warm up laps all by himself with the strobe lights and the music going. Hilarious.
Brook Orpik: Brooksy taught everybody what it meant to be a consummate professional. Most guys like to keep it light in the locker room, but you had to always make sure you were focused when it came to game-time, or Brooksy would let you know. Just a great leader by example. If you ever were looking for Broosky, he wasn’t hard to find. He was either in the weight room or stretching. You had to keep the diet clean around him, too. I remember we all ordered lunch one time and Matt Cooke had all these bags of Five Guys burgers delivered. The look on Brooks’ face was unreal. When I saw him in the red Capitals jersey last season, I almost couldn’t believe it.
Rob Scuderi: Scuds … I love you, dad.
Chris Kunitz: I’ve never seen a guy battle through so many injuries and still go out and run through walls with no complaints every night. When you talk about what it means to be a hockey player, Kuny is it.
Image courtesy of Bridget Samuels.