Londoner and former London Knight Colin Martin named new head coach of the Nationals

There is a picture of Colin Martin at the age of 13 in the London Knights dressing room with a giant smile on his face as he watches the players and people around him celebrating winning the Memorial Cup.

Fast forward just seven years and there was a 20-year old Martin celebrating again in that very same room. This time as a player for the Knights after he and his teammates captured the second OHL championship in franchise history.

Martin knows about big moments in London’s hockey history because he has lived them.

“I got an opportunity as a kid to be a stick boy and I took advantage,” remembers Martin. Being around those players in 2005 really showed me what it took to get to that level and it’s pretty surreal looking back that in 2012 we were in that same dressing room and celebrating another championship.

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And now he brings that experience and know-how to the London Nationals as their new head coach.

The Nationals named Martin to the position following the departure of Pat Powers who announced he was stepping away from coaching duties after six seasons behind the Nationals bench.

Martin is born and raised in London, Ont., and brings a resume that features the championship with the Knights in 2012 as a player and experience that stretches from the GOJHL to U Sports to professional hockey with Utah, Toledo, Brampton and Wichita of the ECHL.

“I love this city. I think everyone who is around me knows that,” admitted Martin.

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His coaching career actually began thanks to a chance Martin was given in Komoka, Ont. Following his playing career Martin was offered a job as an assistant with the Komoka Kings in 2018-19.

“I was working at a company called Snipe Academy before I opened my own hockey school and I really enjoyed the development side in working with kids and seeing them improve and answering their questions. Roop Chanderdat is a fantastic guy and he gave me an opportunity (in Komoka) and after even just a few weeks I could already envision myself being a coach.”

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In Martin’s first season with Komoka, the Kings pulled off a first-round upset of the Chatham Maroons who were 19 points better than Komoka in the regular season. The Kings then pushed Leamington to seven games in the GOJHL’s Western Conference semi-finals.

“I didn’t know my heart could beat that fast for a full sixty minutes (through those games,” Martin smiles.” I enjoyed every second of being with that organization.”

The 2019-20 season was cut short by the start of the COViD-19 pandemic.

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Martin was promoted to Kings head coach before the start of last year and helped to guide Komoka’s players through the rough ride that the pandemic laid out in junior hockey in 2020-21.

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“It was a rough year for everybody,” Martin says. I still feel bad for overage players who lost their last year. During the year we stayed in communication with the players. It can be hard for them to stay engaged when there’s no hockey… but we just hope that we’re able to get going this year and get these kids back playing.”

As a player Martin was always a big presence on the ice with the ability to score goals and was also a positive presence off the ice and in the dressing room.

Learning from former coaches is always key for young coaches and Martin has been able to learn from the likes of London Knights head coach Dale Hunter who is approaching 900 wins in the Ontario Hockey League.

“Dale is unbelievable. His attention to detail is the best I’ve ever seen. The way he does video, the way he reads and game and players and just knows what to do. He’s someone I can still learn from now. Dale in general is such a good human being and all of his players have such respect for him.”

Martin hopes to continue the success the Nationals have had in recent seasons.

“To me that’s what London is all about . We’re here to win championships and make memories.”

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The Nationals have already kicked off their training camp and will begin the pre-season at home on August 28.

The team has also announced that assistant coaches Adam McKee and Jeff Bradley and goalie coach Bill Dark will also return for the 2021-22 season.

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