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Elk River's Paul Martin Finally Gets to Skate on Olympic Stage

Another Olympian with St. Michael ties emerges as Paul Martin finally gets to compete at the Winter Olympics next month.

Elk River standout, former Gopher and current Pittsburgh Penguin Paul Martin is set to head to Sochi next month with Team USA (Source: Michael Miller/Pens Through My Lens)
Elk River standout, former Gopher and current Pittsburgh Penguin Paul Martin is set to head to Sochi next month with Team USA (Source: Michael Miller/Pens Through My Lens)
As a toddler in St. Michael, MN, Paul Martin donned his first skates, hit a few ponds and, most-likely, had his first Olympic-sized daydream. 

After skating over to Elk River to play for the Elks in the late 1990s and 2000, he realized dreams by playing in a state tournament, winning the state's Mr. Hockey Award, getting drafted into the National Hockey League (62nd overall by the New Jersey Devils) and signing with the University of Minnesota. 

He claimed national championships with the Gophers in 2001 and 2002, and entered the NHL as a member of the Devils organization. That alliance would again take him to the top of the hockey world, playing in the NHL playoffs (he made the Eastern Conference Finals last year with the Pittsburgh Penguins), all-star games and getting selected to the 2006 United State Olympic Team. 

He wouldn't play in Tourin, but everyone in the hockey world knew Martin would be back, when the Winter Olympics came to Vancouver. He was named to the 2010 team, but a shot off his arm during the NHL season caused a fracture, and Martin was sidelined for the games. 

Now, in 2014, eight years after making his first team and 11 years into his NHL career, Martin finally has his chance. As a youth player donning his jersey made his way onto the ice at the Winter Classic outdoor hockey game in Ann Arbor, MI. 

"It hit me when they said, 'From Elk River,'" he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Usually they just say 'From Minneapolis.'" 

Martin, who still has plenty of family in St. Michael and, of course, Elk River, will be the second Olympian in two years with local ties. Chas Betts wrestled his way onto the Summer Olympic stage in 2012 with an inspiring performance at the Olympic Qualifiers.

"It's kind of put in our heads from the first day that [being in] the Olympics is something special," Betts said. "It's the one the last things left that brings the whole world together. I'm excited to [have been] part of that."

Martin feels the same way. 

“I know how much this means to me and am thankful for the opportunity. I’m pumped! I will be healthy and ready to go," Martin said via the Pittsburgh Penguins PR team.

He's been sidelined much of this year with a broken leg, but will be back for games in the NHL later this month and early February, before Team USA takes off for Sochi. 


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