How former Blackhawks heartbreaker Alec Martinez can help further Chicago's rebuild

Chicago Blackhawks fans probably remember new defenseman Alec Martinez, albeit for all the painful reasons.

Martinez, who spoke to the media on Wednesday afternoon, was asked about his game-winning goal in game 7 of the Western Conference Final as a Los Angeles King that ended the Blackhawks' season in 2014 and most likely kept Chicago from a three-peat.

"I'm surprised you waited until question two to ask," Martinez said. "Those were some heated battles."

Then, Martinez was breaking Chicago hearts.

Now, he's donning a Blackhawks' sweater in hopes of helping usher in a new era of hockey in Chicago.

Martinez brings a winning pedigree with him to Chicago. He won Stanley Cups in 2012, 2014 and 2023 as a defenseman. He's also familiar with Chicago.

The Kings and Blackhawks met in the playoffs twice, both times in the Western Conference Finals. The first time was in 2013, when Chicago won the Conference Finals over the Kings 4-1.

The second time was the game 7 stunner, where Martinez's shot went off Nick Leddy's shoulder and in the net. Martinez would also clinch the Kings' Stanley Cup win with an overtime goal in game five against the New York Rangers. 

"I know what the United Center is like," Martinez said. "I'm excited to see it on the other side."

However, Martinez, now 36, will join a Blackhawks roster that wants to use that wisdom now and for its future.

Chicago is fresh off the 2024 NHL Draft where the team's biggest addition was defenseman Artyom Levshunov with the No. 2 overall pick. That adds to the stockpile of talented defensemen the Blackhawks have in their pipeline.

Kevin Korchinski, Sam Rinzel, Ethan Del Mastro, Wyatt Kaiser, Nolan Allan, Isaak Phillips and Alex Vlasic are all defensemen who are in the Blackhawks system or have played in the NHL and are all 23-years-old or younger.

Giving those players a veteran like Martinez to learn from, along with Seth Jones, is invaluable for a team that's priority is to develop its talent.

"Alec has had success at every level and we are excited for him to bring that experience into our locker room," Blackhawks General Manager Kyle Davidson said in a statement announcing Martinez's signing. "A savvy and mobile defender, Alex’s reliable defensive game will be a welcomed addition to our team."

Martinez said Wednesday the current Blackhawks roster of veterans convinced him to sign with Chicago. This included Nick Foligno and Connor Murphy, Martinez said.

"They do things the right way," Martinez said. "The guys love playing there."

Martinez will bring leadership and some production, too.

He recorded 17 points on four goals and 13 assists last year. He averaged 19:03 of ice time per game.

But, Martinez knows the biggest assist he can bring to the Blackhawks is by being a pillar of knowledge for a team that was among the youngest in the league last season.

"I thought it was pretty cool, unique opportunity to play with some younger players with a lot of talent," Martinez said. "If I can help them in any way, I'm more than willing to do so and I'm excited to do so."

Martinez is part of an older wave of additions the Blackhawks made.

Of the veteran free agents that Davidson added since the beginning of free agency, seven are aged 29 or older. This includes Martinez.

The young talents the Blackhawks have are aiming to develop further. 

"I think we're going to be pretty good, too," Martinez said.

Related

Chicago Blackhawks reportedly ink a handful of free agents, including former Blackhawk Tuevo Teräväinen

The Chicago Blackhawks kicked off free agency by inking a handful of players to help Connor Bedard, and one of them was a familiar face.