as it has been, Slovak Martin Marincin has impressed just about everybody in
his first look-see with the Edmonton Oilers. Now, the pencil-thin defenseman
gets to spend a couple weeks up close and personal with boyhood idol Zdeno
Chara. Think that might help him learn the ropes?
can’t say for sure how much, but I can’t imagine spending the Sochi Olympics as
a teammate of Chara with Slovakia is going to do anything but help Marincin,
especially if he spends every moment making like a sponge as he plays and
practices alongside the 2009 Norris Trophy winner and captain of the Boston
spending a couple weeks playing golf with Tiger Woods lend a young man some
insight about what it takes to hack it on the PGA Tour? Might an aspiring NFL
quarterback learn a thing or two picking the brain of Peyton Manning or Tom
Brady? You get the drift. Of course it would.
the opportunity that awaits the 21-year-old Marincin, who’ll pull on Slovakian
colors in Sochi after looking more composed and poised than anybody expected in
22 games with the Oilers after being called up from the AHL’s Oklahoma City
coach Dallas Eakins made sure of that, introducing Marincin to Chara when the
Oilers were in Boston Feb. 1. Looks like the six-foot-nine, 255-pound Chara
will be taking Marincin under his considerable wing span.
was calling in a favor,” Eakins said of hooking Marincin up with Chara in
a piece written by Chris Westcott on the Oilers website. “I’ve gotten to
know Chara over the years. I saw him, at a very early age, with the New York
Islanders. I was there at training camp the one year and I saw him starting to
put in the work.
was obsessed with it. He’s turned into, for me, one of the top players in the
game, a guy with extremely high character, great work ethic, extremely humble
and I had talked to Marty about his Olympic experience and the importance of
him asking Chara a lot of questions.”
know Dallas from my first few years with (New York) and he saw me at the
beginning of my career,” Chara said. “Maybe there are some
similarities with Martin.
just kind of asked me if there would be a time and chance to maybe give him some
advice if I would be able and willing to do that. I said of course. I’m always
willing to help or give some advice if I may. He was obviously very kind to
come over and say hi. I really appreciated that. It means a lot.”
as you might guess, was pumped about meeting Chara, a player who is nothing
short of a national hero back home. “That was a big moment for me because
he is like, my idol,” Marincin said. “That was great meeting him and
talking with him about Sochi so I was so excited.”
think it’s huge,” Chara said of Marincin experiencing the Olympics. “Just
to be in the big spotlight, on the big stage with the best players in the
world, I think it’s always helpful and it’s a great experience. Everything
about it is probably a good thing for not just him, but everybody.”
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who was taken 46th overall by Edmonton in the 2010 Entry Draft –
that’s 10 spots higher than Chara, who went 56th overall to the New
York Islanders in 1996 – is almost as gangly as Chara when he broke into the
NHL. Marincin has just 187 pounds on a six-foot-four frame – he’s sort of a
mini-me version of the Boston behemoth.
Marincin, surprisingly, has seldom looked out of place so far on the Oiler blue
line, it seems to me the Olympic break comes at a perfect time for him. Young
players, especially defensemen, like Marincin can sometimes get by on
adrenaline when they first make the jump to the NHL. Once they’ve been around a
bit, opponents get a better read on them.
almost guaranteed Marincin is going to hit rough spots along the way as
opponents get the book on how he moves and his tendencies – the ability to
close gaps, how he reacts to fore-checking pressure etc. Every team the Oilers
play will have eyes on him now, be it live in the rink or via video.
Olympic break in Sochi gives Marincin a chance to digest everything he’s taken
in through 22 games in preparation for the stretch drive with the Oilers. To re-set.
And he’ll do it alongside one of the dominant defensemen of the last decade. I’m
guessing the Oilers hope just a little rubs off.
to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason
Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.