July 22, 2015

Marty Reasoner

Marty Reasoner was a speedy, playmaking center with strong offensive sense. Because he was of average size and not a physical player at the best of times, he was too often a perimeter player that prevented him from being a full time top-two center.

Instead Reasoner was ideally suited as a third line pivot who could be shoe-horned into a top two role when needed and could handle regular power play duty.

Reasoner had deceptive speed that when he skated in straight lines. But he would lose effectiveness when he tried to buy time by wandering with the puck to make a play.

The Honeoye Falls, New York native first made his mark at McQuaid Jesuit High School. Marty Reasoner was the team's top scorer in each of his two seasons skating for the Knights, and it was clear the playmaking center was destined for bigger things.

He accepted a scholarship to play at Boston College. Reasoner was named Hockey East's Rookie of the Year as a freshman and was an All-American during his junior season. Reasoner skated with Brian Gionta on a line that propelled the Eagles to the national championship game in 1998.

His importance to Boston College's success can not be understated.

"We went after Marty Reasoner hard," said coach Jerry York. "It was between Michigan and BC and he lived halfway between in Rochester, NY. I think he really wanted to lead a program, and Michigan was pretty much a national contender at the time.

"He became our cowbell player. He led us all the way to the national title game in 1998 here in Boston. We lost in OT to Michigan, of all teams, but that season and that game put BC on a roll ever since. And Marty got us going."

By his draft year Reasoner was considered one of the top prospects in hockey. One scout even dared to say "he has a little bit of Joe Sakic in him." He was a first-round draft pick by the St Louis Blues in 1996, the 14th pick overall.

Reasoner made his debut with the Blues in 1998, scoring 17 goals in three seasons while shuttling back and forth between St Louis and the Blues' farm team in Worcester.

His big break came after a 2001 trade that sent him to the Edmonton Oilers. He tallied 121 points in 351 games for the Oilers. But a serious knee injury in 2003 and the NHL lockout in 2004-05 cost him almost two full seasons in his prime.

Reasoner spent 14 seasons in the NHL, also playing for the Boston Bruins, Atlanta Thrashers, Florida Panthers, and New York Islanders.

Because Marty Reasoner never put up the big offensive numbers some expected of him when he first came into the league, some saw him as a bust. Not true. No player that played in over 800 career games over 14 seasons can be considered a bust. Over the years Reasoner transformed himself into more of a utility player that found a role on the various teams he played with.

"When I came in at 21," Reasoner said, "I thought the accomplishments as a pro would be more, especially as an offensive guy. But things happen over your career and your life. It's how you deal with that and how you respond. I'm pretty proud to play this long. It would have been easy seven or eight years ago when things weren't going that well and I couldn't make it as an offensive guy to just pack up. But I transformed my game and became a different player. It's let me have a 12- or 13-year career."

No comments: