Islanders’ Matt Martin finds balance between hockey and parenthood
When Matt Martin and his wife had their first daughter, Windsor, he only had five days to spend with her before being sent to the NHL bubble for 2 and a half months. Instead of experiencing life with a newborn, he settled for FaceTiming four or five times a day with his wife Sydney Esiason as the Islanders made a run to the Eastern Conference Finals over the summer and the fall of 2020.
So this time, when Martin had to leave for St. Louis after her second daughter, Alice, was born last Tuesday, it wasn’t too bad. Martin he missed the Islanders’ win against the Blackhawks to be there for Alice’s birth and returned to his family Saturday night after the team’s road trip ended with a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings earlier in the day.
“It’s beautiful, obviously, amazing to be there and welcome Alice into the world and enjoy this moment with Sydney,” Martin told The Post on Monday morning. “She was tested and cleared, and Sydney was tested and cleared, everybody healthy, able to go home and fly to St. Louis and get ready for the game the next day.
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Need for balance family with career It’s nothing new for Martin, who has been in the NHL for 14 years and has been married to Sydney since 2019. Everyone involved understands what it will entail, and the current situation is much more ideal for Martin than it was two years ago.
That said, dealing with two young children will be a challenge in itself.
“We thought Winnie was difficult, but at least we could share the responsibilities,” Martin said. “Now, you’ve got your eyes on two of them. But it’s part of life. It’s an amazing thing. It’s a blessing. I’m enjoying it.”
At just over 2 years old, Martin said Winnie may recognize the Islanders logo and he has some understanding of what his father does for a living. When he sees it on TV, he says “Papa” or “Papa”.
“When he gets to warmups, he loves to stand in front of the glass,” Martin said. “I don’t know if she really understands that it’s me when I go up to her, but she really likes watching the boys skate, and she likes to eat the chips and everything in the family room. I think she understands what’s going on.”
While Martin had yet to score a “daddy goal” heading into Monday night’s game against Calgary, he had he has almost surpassed his goal total of last season, with two goals in 11 games. Last year, when the Islanders played a more conservative style under Barry Trotz, Martin scored three goals in 71 games. He’s reached double figures just once in his career, when he scored 10 goals for the Isles in 2015-16, but he’s about to threaten his career high.
All that, however, is not at the forefront of his mind right now.
It’s team-focused, yes, but it’s also a time to enjoy with the family.
“I love spending time with children. It’s nice to be able to get away from the game especially sometimes,” Martin said. “You go home and focus on your family and you don’t think about hockey 24/7 like I probably did when I was younger , without responsibilities.
“I think that keeps your mind fresh, too. It keeps things in perspective.”
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