Martel Making Progress In Rookie Season

Saturday, January 23, 2016
Danick Martel has been fun to watch in 2015-16 with Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
In 34 games, forward Danick Martel has shown much more than expected from an undrafted rookie in his first full season of professional hockey. The undersized (5-8, 166 pound) but hard-working forward still has a long way to go if he wants to reach every hockey players' end goal of making it to the NHL, but he has certainly hit the ground running with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this season.

One thing is for sure. Martel is as determined as any to prove people wrong about his size keeping him from making it in pro hockey.

"I have one of the biggest hearts in this league," Martel said after the team's practice in Whitehall this week. "If I need to work more because I'm smaller, I'll do it."

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It's that attitude and work ethic that has seen Martel have some success, tallying 14 goals and seven assists so far this season despite two separate stints on the injured list. While he's pleased with his offensive production, Martel knows there's plenty of things he needs to work on away from the puck to better adapt himself to the pro game.

"I think this year I need to point puts on the side a bit," Martel explained, adding, "Yeah, it's going well and points are coming, but I also need to improve my defensive part of my game. Let go of the points, place my defense on another level and everything will go well from there."

His teammates say that he's always smiling and having a good time on the ice. His opponents might have a different opinion. Despite being one of the smallest guys on the ice, Martel isn't afraid to stick his nose where it doesn't belong - routinely getting into confrontations in front of the net and in the corners. He's especially drawing the ire of his opponents as well as drawing penalties using his speed and intensity.

"It's always been like this. I have a lot of emotion and heart when I'm playing," Martel said. "Even on referees, other players, on myself - I'm always [playing] with heart. I need to stay like this because that's going to make me successful."

For a young player, Martel gets it. He knows his strengths - speed, skating, offensive skill - and what he needs to work on - defensive game, play and positioning away from the puck. He's taken the right approach to coming to the rink every day ready to learn and take it all in. The taking nothing for granted mindset could pay off for both Martel and the Flyers organization down the road.

"It's up and down sometimes but I think it's the process of being a pro," Martel said. "I'm just leaving it all on the ice and everything will go well."


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