MARINCIN: SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND

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Brief
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?

I
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
Bruins.

Would
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.

That’s
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
Barons.

Edmonton
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.

SETTING
IT UP

Dallas Eakins 14

“I
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.

“He
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.”

“I
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.

“He
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.”

Marincin,
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.”

“I
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.”

WATCH,
LISTEN AND LEARN

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Marincin,
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.

While
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.

It’s
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.

The
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.    

Listen
to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason
Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

    • I sat across from him on a flight home from Houston over Xmas. The pictures you see simply do not give a true idea of how skinny he is. Even worse when you see a tall kid in euro “skinny low-ass hiking pants”. I mean, sheesh! It really shocked me when I saw him pick up his bundle of sticks and Oilers equipment bag at the luggage terminal. Like…”Noooo wayyyyy!”

      But I have to say. When you see most pro NHL’ers out and about you’re kind of taken aback by the fact that they’re not nearly as huge as you’d think. TV adds weight and skates add height I suppose. And it’s a game of agility and speed, which kind of precludes most big guys.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        Your right, and it reminds me of the winter a few years back when I nearly ran over Sam Gagner and Tom Gilbert in the parking lot at Future Shop when it was still on Calgary Trail.

        I was driving a 1 ton at the time and was scanning the parking lot for a spot to park and looked up and see two guys in Oilers toques in black peacoats walking right in front of me and I slammed on the brakes. They look up and I see it’s them.

        So I go in to the store after I park and I see them in the video game section and you could barely see the top of Sam Gagner’s head over the video game shelving. I’m not even joking.

        • Thumby

          By power of deduction and according to the Oilers tape measures, that means the shelf must be pretty high at just under 5’11”. Weird…I have no problem seeing over them.

          Seriously though, just how bad do these guys BS their heights & weights? I ran into Mike Comrie in the gym years ago…his stats say 5’10” and 187 but he only came up to my chest height and I’m 6’1″ 187 lbs on a good day.When you look at pics of him and his wife, he’s barely taller than her.

          What gives? With the combine info today are we getting more accurate stats?

          I propose a challenge to Oiler Nation followers – if you ever see a player next to one of those doors that have the tape measure along the side, take a snap shot and we should send them to ON post on here!

          Expose them I say!

          • You’re calling BS on players and then you say Mike Comrie only comes up to your chest?

            Measure the distance from the tip of your chin to the top of your head. What is it, 8 inches, 10, maybe 12? And we’re not even allowing for your neck here.

            Let’s use the minimum of 8 inches (Beetle Juice head). You say you’re six-foot-one and Comrie only comes up to your chest. So, you’re saying he’s what, five-foot-two, five-foot-one? And you’re calling BS? Wow.

            I say we take photos of Thumby fibbing and post them here.

      • geoilersgist

        I hear ya. I work in Calgary and see lots of Flames on game days eating their lunch at a restaurant by my office. On tv all these guys seem huge, but you take off their equipment and just put normal clothes on them they aren’t big at all.

        Oh ya can’t forget this #EatSh!tFlames

      • As someone who went from 5’10 – 6’4 in a short period of time, if Marincin is already 187 at the age of 21, he’s ahead of the development game. Through the ‘miracle’ of a slowing metabolism, my once hollow leg is now beginning to resemble a spare tire. My diet is pretty good and I do a reasonable amount of physical activity, and yet I am now in the 210 range. Point being, since Marincin will fill his frame, pack on some weight, and turn that into muscle. If the Oilers are patient enough for him to do that, he could end up being a dominant player in his later 20’s. If he keeps showing well, lock him up in a few years to low dollars and watch as we get one of the best in the league for nothing.

  • I tried it at home

    Nice to read some positive about the Oil instead of we suck, we will always suck, sky has fallen and taken out the new arena, etc etc. I was wondering if the Oilers were thinking of sending Marancin back to the OKC after the Olympics, I don’t see why they would but then again Im not really into reading up on bylaws and contract terms, and such. Great article for a Tuesday morning though, now Ill just go make another pot of coffee.

  • ubermiguel

    I’m really impressed by Marincin. My biggest hope is he picks up a little nastiness from Chara.
    One, because he needs to add that element, and two, because Oiler fans demand it.
    I fear in a year or two when the shine has worn off, and Marincin makes a turnover in his own end, and then didn’t run the guy through the end boards that we’ll be looking at our next Tom Gilbert, Tom Poti…. Jeff Petry
    All of those D men are above average NHL D-men, some of whom have been run out of town, and the fans are working on the latter. I just hope this isn’t in Marincin’s future.

    • Guy Lafleur

      Look up Marincin at the world juniors. His hit on Zucker (I think) in the Slovakia – USA game was malicious, and nasty.

      He doesn’t need to learn to be a bastard, he has that in him. He just needs to fill out so that he can do that to grown men without getting his teeth knocked down his throat.

    • dougtheslug

      I know this is just one aspect of MANY in a players game, but something that Gregor was talking about the other day was how many of the college players come out less feisty or fierce in their “nastiness” compared to some of the guys who came up in the CHL or other leagues. Common problem between Gilbert, Poti and Petry is that neither of them have a mean edge to their game like many other defensemen in the NHL. This is one of the things that annoys most Oilers fans..because you see other 1/2 defensemen on teams and think “why isn’t *insert defender* being that physical?” then it starts to get at people.

      See this is the problem, if a player like Yakupov is scoring goals and playing well defensively no one cares because he’s doing everything right. If he scores goals and plays mediocre or poor defense people overlook it because he’s still getting his job done. If he’s neither putting up big points or playing well defensively well…that’s when people get frustrated.

      With defensemen you need to do one of two things. Either put up points or play well defensively. If you are a rock solid defender who makes checks and blocks shots and keeps people out of his crease, no one is concerned. If you put up points and make great plays, no one is concerned. When you don’t do either of those well…then people start to get frustrated.

      Jeff Petry, doesn’t put up a lot of points, doesn’t make a lot of physical play, and makes sometimes costly mistakes. People are getting frustrated with him. Tom Poti…he was the turnover mill and wasn’t overly physical, so people wanted him gone. Tom Gilbert couldn’t shoot, but he made plays, but he was a turn over god, and wasn’t physical, so people wanted him gone.

      My point is…we aren’t just running him out because he makes one bad aspect. You need to have multiple bad aspects for people to care.

      • pkam

        The problem in Petry is not the player, but we the fans.

        We say we know he is a potential 2nd pairing defense, not a 1st pairing defense. We say we know he is still a young defense with only about 200 NHL games experience.

        Many nights he is playing the toughest forward line in our opponents, usually elite players. He is playing north of 21 minutes per games, 2nd just after J. Schultz.

        Some fans said he is not physical enough, he is 1st in hits among all our defense, 13th among all NHL defense.

        Some fans said he makes too many big mistakes that end up a GA. The reason is he is playing against elite players and they are very good at putting the puck into the net when you make even a small mistake.

        He will be much better if we don’t play him mostly against the opponents best line.

        The real problem is we fans expect him, a young defense still under development and is paid less than 2M, to play like a 1st pairing defense who is making 5M+.

        • Tikkanese

          Would anyone disagree against that Brendan Gallagher is a physical player? I highly doubt it unless they’ve never watched him play. He only has 30 hits this year in 58 GP.

          Somehow Petry is listed at 141 hits in 58 GP. When you compare the two on ice, Petry is not physical. I don’t know how they count what Petry does as hits. Saying he is a physical player because of a Hit total is wrong.

          People say Petry isn’t physical because he is not physical. He doesn’t go out of his way to throw a hit like a Fistric. He doesn’t clear the front of the net. He rarely is in the middle of scrums and certainly never starts them. His lone “fight” if you could call it that, he looked almost as pathetic as Semin did in his. I’m sorry, but Petry is not a physical defensemen.

        • oilbaron

          I think we both know the real answer to this problem…it all goes back to having an NHL defense that isn’t dependent upon rookies or young guys to bolster the blue line but at least a few “quality” defenders to teach and take the heavier minutes.

          I agree Petry is playing minutes he shouldn’t be and he’s exceeding our expectations in areas we thinking he’s lacking. But at the end of the day it’s what people see when they watch those guys on the ice.

          This entire team would be better if we weren’t sending the kids against the toughest players in the NHL night in and night out with no one to at least provide a bit of support.

          Oh and we expect J. Schultz or Jeff Petry to do these things because that is who MacT and the Oilers field as being “the best they have”…so I don’t blame the fans for expecting a little bit of something after 8 years of nothing.

  • Guy Lafleur

    Chara fought a lot in junior playing for Prince George , you cant force someone too be tough you either are or you arent . I think if he plays well in his own end and hits the forwards on the fly with that 1st pass we will love him long time !!!

  • D

    A lot of success in life is a mixture of preparation and good timing. Marincin has done a lot of work and should be well positioned to effectively receive the information Chara will provide him.

    For the Oilers organization as a whole – talk about a great opportunity.

  • ubermiguel

    I should also add that Steve Smith has been an utter failure mentoring the Oiler dmen so it’s not surprising Eakins needed to turn to somebody like Chara.

  • dow7500

    Marincin in junior and AHL has always shown the offence.In nhl it hasn’t come through but I believe it will.
    What I didn’t expect is his ability to pin the forwards win some puck battles and break the cycle.When he gets against the big heavy western teams he may struggle with that but if he can put on 10 or 15 lbs the oil will have something.
    He also said in an interview that he was up to 193 lbs.

  • dow7500

    Chara had a lot of challengers coming after him in junior. He destroyed most of them. Got to see it several times. Teams would come here for back to back games and the poor kid who went after Chara rarely played the second game. Chara would rarely looked for it but took on all comers.

  • dougtheslug

    Remember that Chara was drafted in the 3rd round 18 years ago, was deemed expendable by 2 teams before settling in Boston, and didn’t really emerge as an elite D man until his early 30’s.

    Marincin is 21. Patience, please!

      • bwar

        The 1st trade was by Mad Mike Milbury. Spezza and Chara for Yashin. Combine that with the Luongo trade for essentially Rick Dipietro…guaranteed suckitude for the next decade.

        Chara leaving Ottawa was a cap issue for the Sens. They chose to keep Redden.

        • dougtheslug

          Okay, at 25,playing with Wade Redden,himself at that time a legitimate number one d-man, he began to emerge.

          But at age 23-24 in his first two full seasons with an admittedly poor Islander team (after two lengthy call ups when he was age 21-22) he played 147 games, scored 4 goals, 16 assists, and was an uninspiring -54.

          My point is that elite NHL defenseman rarely emerge at Marincin’s age, 21. He is showing exciting signs that he may develop, but expectations that he will be Chara 2.0 by next year are dangerous.

          Remember the Islanders made a BOLD move trading Chara,when he was 24, and their first round pick (which turned out to be Jason Spezza) to Ottawa for Alexei Yashin. Just the sort of move I fear from the “impatient guy” that MacT describes himself as being.

          • dougtheslug

            The Chara comparisons have been flying thick and fast this year – even you called him the “mini-me version of the Boston Behemoth”. (and not so mini at that)

            My point is, with the comparisons come the (sometimes unreasonable) expectations, which, if his development unfolds in the normal course of such things, might lead to not unfamiliar Oilerian impatience.

  • oilbaron

    Its gonna be awesome when he returns from the Olympics and starts putting in all this hard earned knowledge he gained while playing with Chara, that is until the coaching staff (Bucky/Smith) come up to him while he’s sitting on the bench and tells him not to play that way and what he’s doing is wrong….Oh its gonna happen people, GUARANTEED!

  • The Last Big Bear

    I would expect a sports writer to know that a “stretch drive” is very different from “playing out the string”. Definitely not the same.

    That said, Marincin is looking like a nice little gem for the Oilers. I hope the Oilers have the sense and the patients to take their time with him, and not be afraid to send him back to the farm if and when he runs out of steam. I agree that the Olympics is perfectly timed for his career trajectory, both short and long-term.

  • Mason Storm

    Outside of team Canada, Slovakia is the team I want to watch the most. We have limited Oilers’ representation at the Olympics and both Hemsky as well as Belov probably won’t even be Oilers by next season. You certainly do worse than Chara for a mentor. By all acounts, he has a legendary work ethic.

  • Zarny

    Huge opportunity for Marty.

    First, to get experience with high-pressure hockey. Invaluable experience to play in games of this magnitude with this level of talent.

    Second, to see how a guy like Chara prepares for and handles the pressure. How he sees different situations.

    Can`t wait to see how the kid does.

  • oilbaron

    Marincin, reminds me of a youngish Larry Robinson.
    For his age and lack of experience this guy plays a real cool game. Yes, he has moments and mistakes but he had played only 23 games.. can’t imagine him at the game 200 level, This guy could be a beast.Lets hope his development trends up with added body and skill development. One could only wish for a Robinson type.