Butch Martin is a Lake Placid, New York native with a lifelong and intrinsic connection to hockey in the community. His involvement started as a young player in the local sports association and since then, he has contributed countless hours to developing and promoting the sport in Lake Placid. He knows the game from all facets—including player, spectator, coach and referee—which many say, makes him an expert. When asked about his relationship with hockey, Butch speaks passionately about his personal history with the sport and the unique hockey tradition in the small Olympic Village...
Butch started playing hockey with the Lake Placid PeeWee Association in 1964, four years after the organization's inception in 1958. As the result of a unified effort between families and community members, the association quickly gained momentum and created opportunity for children to thrive and improve their hockey skills in a fun and nurturing atmosphere. The team coaches are, and always have been, parent volunteers. Butch says this structure creates a culture that lends itself to superior dedication from both athletes and coaches. As a PeeWee Association member, not only did his talent develop but also his enthusiasm for the sport.
In 1966, he started playing with the Lake Placid High School Varsity Hockey Team. After graduating in 1970, he moved on to play at the collegiate level at the University of New Hampshire. Butch lived in New Hampshire for a brief while after college but in 1977, Lake Placid Arena Manager, Bob Allen reached out asking for help at the rink. * Simultaneously, Butch's former high school coach was retiring and suggested he take over as head coach. With over a decade of hockey under his belt and a strong affection for the game, he returned to Lake Placid. The timing was very appropriate with recent buzz about a Winter Olympics bid.
When discussing the Olympic Games in Lake Placid, Butch credits deep-rooted hockey culture and well organized, established hockey programs as instrumental in landing the 1980 Games. The committee responsible for the 1980 Olympic arena construction was comprised of devoted community members and parents with children in the PeeWee association. Butch played a major role as rink manager while also coaching the Lake Placid High School Hockey team. 1980 is easily identified as an epic year for hockey and while Butch in no way diminishes the significance of the "Miracle on Ice" game, his favorite hockey memory is winning the 1980 High School State Championship in Lake Placid with his team of dedicated athletes with tons of school pride and camaraderie from days as young players.
After landing the State Championship, Butch decided to explore a different aspect of the game and started officiating, particularly college hockey games. He describes the opportunity as thrilling with travel to different schools and a fun energy surrounding collegiate hockey. He continued his involvement with the Lake Placid PeeWee Association and the rink, scheduling game times, tournaments and coordinating officials.
Eight years ago, Butch returned to his favorite role and joined the Lake Placid High School Hockey team as Assistant Coach and then took lead as Head Coach in 2016. As a coach, he finds great reward in establishing strong relationships with his players, enriching their lives, helping them reach their goals, watching both their personal and athletic growth and passing along his love for the game. His influence both on and off the ice is evident as in the past two years, Butch has led his team to the Section VII Championship, the NYSPHAA Regional Championship and the NYS Final Four Tournament.
Butch has known from the start that his town is something special when it comes to hockey, but the 1980 Winter Olympics and historic "Miracle on Ice" face off shared this with the rest of the world. From PeeWee level to national teams to college tournaments to NHL training, those that step in the 1980 rink feel the same tangible energy from the 1980 games, and Butch says playing in the rink completes a hockey athlete's experience.
He defines Lake Placid hockey as multigenerational, full of rich memories, historic moments and tradition. While he cherishes the incredible impact hockey has on his life, his positive impact on the sport and on his players is obvious as they are now his friends and family and will, without fail, show up to birthday parties, funerals, anniversaries and reunions. He says he will always be involved with Lake Placid hockey in some capacity to share his love of the game and to create the same positive experience for young players today.
*In keeping with the Lake Placid Hockey Tradition, the Lake Placid rink is now managed by Butch's close friend and Bob Allen's son, Denny Allen.