Islanders Summer Report Card: Radek Martinek
By Rich Dias-Rodrigues
May 9, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek (4) takes the ice before playing the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period in game five of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
NASSAU VETERANS MEMORIAL COLISEUM OF LEARNING
- Name: Radek Martinek
- Evaluation Year: 2013
- Age: 36
- Undergraduate: 2001
- Days Absent: 35 games for 2013
- Scholarship: Standard one-year UFA contract valued at $600K; playoff bonus valued at $150k; cap hit $750K
- Achievements: 13 GP, 3 G, 3 PTS, TOI/G: 16:09, PROD: 69:58
Class List and Grade History
- Skating: C-
- Shooting: C
- Passing: C
- Defense: C
- Leadership: D+
Professor’s Comments: On January 13th of this year, GM Garth Snow gave Radek Martinek his penultimate (if not, indeed, his final) opportunity at salvaging what’s left of his beleaguered hockey career.
When reviewing his contract history, Martinek’s seemingly inexorable salary depreciation reads much like a road map that illustrates the proverbial downward spiral of a once promising career.
Consider, if you will, Radek’s 2008-09 contract negotiation: three-years at 4.5m, with each year seeing an increase in payout. During those three contractual seasons, Radek Martinek missed 115 games. That’s a season and a half on the DL for a player the Islanders desperately needed on the ice. (Note: RM missed 35 games of this truncated season, as well.)
The Islanders have carried this unfortunate yet hard-working defenseman for close to 10 years and to no avail. Aside from Rick DiPietro, I cannot think of another player with as much ill-fortune plaguing him than Martinek.
If I were giving out nicknames this past January, Radek’s wouldn’t be the “Comeback Kid,” but rather, Charlie Brown.
Radek, when healthy, offers you some sturdy blueline action, some necessary backchecking during a penalty kill, and most importantly, a willingness to deliver a body check, unlike our former Captain Mark Streit.
Snow must have had a similar inclination, felt as if there was something left for Martinek to offer, something brimming in this once upstart lad, so as to offer him the one year deal. And Martinek took the considerable pay cut as any journeyman would, solely for the chance at redemption.
Say what you want about Snowy, he’s the GM of second chances, just ask Brian Strait and Keith Aucoin to name a few.
But the reality of Radek Martinek’s situation is that he’s finished as an Islander, and, perhaps, in a couple of seasons, out of the NHL completely.
There’s something to be learned from Radek Martinek’s career, something all too common informing all athletic careers really, but rarely addressed.
See, what reporters most like to harp on are those sports figures who catapult to the stars and fall heavily and speedily to the ground: Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, and a plethora of others.
But average careers of average players that are cut short due to injuries rarely, if ever, get a by-line in the local press. And why, right? Boring reading material. But not really. For me, there lies the drama.
Franz Kafka–Courtesy of WikiPedia
Usually those ‘insignificant’ nobodies make for some great literature (some great life lessons,) if people just bothered to look. Just ask fellow Czech, Franz Kafka. (Hmm, RadeK MartineK? If you know Kafka, you may find what I just pointed out a bit funny and a bit eerie? Or maybe not.)
Nevertheless, these players depart the stage as quietly as they entered. Careers drawing to a close not because they killed their pregnant girlfriend, or died of a drug overdose, or punched their wives and were then carted off to jail. No. It all ended because they were Human all too Human.
Yes, as an Islander fan, I often wonder what would’ve happened had Ken Morrow not asked to have fluid drained from his knees year after year, or Mike Bossy taken better care of his back, etc. These players accomplished something, however, in their professional lifetime. The stuff of legends to coin the phrase.
All Martinek and players of his ilk have to show for all the pain and frustration are nagging questions. But that’s the game. Nay, that’s life. That’s the definition of the existential emphasis that underpins all our lives, really. (Hyperbole withstanding.)
So I hesitate to quickly demote this man, who was given one last shot at leaving his mark on the Island by a GM who obviously knows more about the inner workings of his club than I. He must have his reasons.
Jan 24, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Maybe it was the exorbitant money given him that allowed me to literally cheer aloud the departure of Rick DiPietro, but after some careful consideration, he too suffers from ill-fate. So I defer now to my reason and say that both DiPietro and Martinek aren’t bad guys, just plain unlucky.
And how many of us can relate to these men and their looming black clouds? Forget the beautiful wife and the cash. Just think about the disappointment at knowing that you never realized your potential. It’s an insufferable reality rest assured.
And like DP, Martinek’s presence is a reminder, regrettably, of a time in Islander history when nothing seemed to work; when any move, regardless of intent, signified failure.
The die is cast, Radek. C’est la vie.
Professor’s Recommendation: Garth Snow re-signed Martinek in order to prevent the entire Islander defense from falling under the weight of its own ineptitude at the time, as Lubomir Visnovsky‘s arrival was uncertain. Had Lubo arrived for the 6-day mini camp, I highly doubt Snow would’ve given Radek his second chance, even if he wanted to.
Curious it is when Ty Wishart will emerge as a permanent member of the Isles’s squad. And with Griffin Reinhart on the horizon, not to mention Travis Hamonic, Andrew MacDonald, Brian Strait already established members of the crew, with the aforementioned Visnovsky in tow, I just don’t see what Radek can offer the team anymore.
In summa, one may safely assume that with Lubo’s deal already inked, Hammer’s being fleshed out as we speak, and the young guns almost ripe for harvest, Snow has no choice but to part ways with this once promising prospect.
What do you say, Islander country?