Coyotes’ Martinook carves out his place with hard work

Jordan Martinook has eight goals and 10 assists for the Coyotes in his second season.
Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

“Hard worker.”

In the culture of hockey, it might be the greatest compliment a player can get. And it is a label that Arizona Coyotes left wing Jordan Martinook wears proudly.

Martinook, 24, is an NHL late bloomer who was cut from five teams during his midget and junior days. His hard work has become the mainstay of his style of play, various coaches and teammates said. And fans voted him the team’s “Hardest Working Player” last season.

After being cut so many times as a young player, Martinook began to second guess himself. But rather than quit, he kept working at it. The adversity only made him want to chase the dream of playing in the NHL that much harder.

“I feel like whenever you get adversity, you want to prove the people wrong that gave it you,” Martinook said. “And that was a main focus in my life after those events.”

Now in his second season, Martinook still wears that chip on his shoulder.

“Every day you want to come in and get better,” he said. “And for all the people that think that maybe you shouldn’t be there, or should not have made it where you made it — it’s always nice to show that you put in the work, you put in the effort to get here.”

Coyotes assistant Newell Brown first learned of Martinook from his son, a goalie in the Western Hockey League who had played against him.

“He’s just one of those guys that was cut, but he didn’t quit and that’s part of his personality,” Brown said. “Knock him down, he gets right back up, dusts his pants off and gets right back in the fray again.”

The Coyotes selected Martinook 58th overall in the 2012 draft, and he spent three seasons with the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Portland.

Coyotes captain Shane Doan said, “it was kind of one of those things that, the only way he was going to make it is through his work ethic.”

“His work ethic set a standard for his skill to catch up to,” Doan said. “His skill has caught up to it now, and he’s just such a vital guy.

“He creates turnovers because he’s just relentless. Guys will look up and be like ‘I can’t really get there.’ Marty’s like ‘I don’t know if I am going to get there, but I’m going to try to.’

“He doesn’t get there all the time, but every now and again he does, which creates an opportunity for one of his teammates.”

Martinook doesn’t mind working at the little things to help the Coyotes win.

“I just want to be a guy that brings energy every night, chips in offensively and leads the way on the penalty kill,” he said. “If I can do that, I think that’ll help the team be successful.”

Doan said Martinook works just as hard at being a good teammate as he does chasing down pucks and has a personality that makes him someone teammates gravitate to.

“He wants his teammates to do well,” Doan said. “He wants to take care of his teammates, and everybody wants to be around someone like that.

Despite his relative inexperience in the NHL, Martinook has shown leadership qualities.

“He’s the guy that, if we’re on the road, he makes sure that everyone is involved,” Doan said. “If we’re going out for dinner, he’s making sure guys are invited. He goes out of his way to make sure that everyone always feels part of every situation.”

Martinook said he tries have fun with everyone in the locker room.

“I’m trying to kind of bring smiles on people’s faces,” he said. “When people are smiling, then that makes me happy.”

Brown, who joined the Coyotes coaching staff in 2013, said Martinook already has become a leader.

“Everybody likes him because he does care about each and every player,” Brown said. “This is just his second year in the NHL, but all of a sudden he’s got a lot of respect around the room.

“He’s earned it. He’s deserved it. And the guys appreciate what he does.”