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 Kalamazoo Wings

K-Wings Name Joel Martin as 21st Head Coach

August 15, 2022 - ECHL (ECHL)
Kalamazoo Wings News Release

KALAMAZOO, MI - The Kalamazoo Wings, proud ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey League's Columbus Blue Jackets, announced Monday that ECHL Hall of Famer Joel Martin has been named the organization's director of hockey operations and 21st head coach.

"On behalf of the entire K-Wings professional hockey organization, Ronda and I are thrilled to welcome Joel Martin to his new role as Director of Hockey Operations and Head Coach of the K-Wings," said Bill Johnston, Stadium Management Corporation (Kalamazoo Wings parent company) owner. "Joel's vast experience as a professional hockey player, combined with his ability to teach and lead, will deliver excellence to our entire organization. Joel has a detailed championship plan and we are excited to watch it unfold."

Martin, 39, ascends into the K-Wings head coaching position after spending the last three seasons as an assistant coach under former Kalamazoo head coach Nick Bootland. During his tenure as an assistant, Martin helped the team clinch a postseason berth and was an integral part of the team's goaltending, defensive and special teams development and performance. In all, Kalamazoo compiled a 95-97-4-3 record with Martin on its coaching staff.

"I'm honored to be named head coach and director of hockey operations for the Kalamazoo Wings," Joel Martin said. "I'd first like to thank my family for their continued love and support. Next, I'd like to thank Bill Johnston and Ronda Stryker, along with Brad Vandenberg for entrusting me with the opportunity to lead this historic franchise. I look forward to working alongside Toni Will, Rob Underwood and our entire front office & Wings Event Center staff."

Prior to his time as an assistant with the K-Wings, Martin played 15 seasons of professional hockey across every level as a goaltender. Nine of those seasons were spent with the Kalamazoo Wings, setting multiple franchise records and winning the 2006 Colonial Cup (UHL). Martin retired from playing after the 2017-18 season.

The former goaltender's record book assaulting career slots him as the K-Wings current all-time goaltending leader in career games played (422), saves (12,310), wins (229), shutouts (21), and minutes played (24,755). Martin also currently sits Top-4 in every major single-season goaltending statistical category in Kalamazoo Wings history. For those efforts, Martin was named to the 14th ECHL Hall of Fame class on January 18, 2022.

A native of Ft. Worth, TX, originally, Martin moved to Three Hills, Alberta as a young child. The future HOF netminder quickly established himself as a budding talent and spent three seasons in the Western Hockey League with Lethbridge, Tri-City, Vancouver and Calgary. Martin would later meet his wife Caroline during his K-Wings playing days. The two are proud parents of two boys, Louis and Thomas.

The hire of Martin marks the first Black head coach in K-Wings history, joining Cincinnati Cyclones head coach Jason Payne as the only two black head coaches in North American men's professional hockey. Both are active members of the NHL Coaches Association BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color), and the hire is the fourth head coach of color in the ECHL's 35 year history.

As the seventh BIPOC head coach in North American men's professional hockey history, Martin also joins Dirk Graham (Chicago Blackhawks, NHL, 1998-99), John Paris Jr. (Atlanta Knights, IHL, 1994-1995), Shawn Wheeler (Charlotte Checkers, ECHL, 1998-2000), Graeme Townsend (Macon Whoope & Greensboro Generals, CHL/ECHL, 1999-2002), and Leo Thomas (Macon Mayhem, SPHL, 2018-2019).

Martin also joins Colin Chaulk (Bakersfield Condors / AHL) as the second former Nick Bootland assistant named to a professional hockey head coaching position.

"Nick Bootland's leadership and support has prepared me for this next step, and I'm ready to get started with the team staff and players immediately," Martin said. "Most importantly, I look forward to a great season with the best fans in the ECHL."

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