By Mark Simon
Special to NHL.com
October 24, 2003
After a professional hockey career that spanned 13 years and nearly 600 games, Steve Martinson became a stockbroker for Smith Barney in San Diego. But when the chance came to coach the San Diego Gulls in 1995, he jumped at the opportunity.
“It was a lot easier asking people to play for you, then asking them for their money,” Martinson said with a laugh.
Nowadays he does both, as the Gulls’ head coach, general manager, and part-owner. The Gulls were the most successful team in the history of the West Coast Hockey League, winning five Taylor Cup championships in the past eight seasons under Martinson, including the first three titles in league history. During that span, the Gulls averaged 48 wins a year and never had a winning percentage less than .625. That made them the most loved and most hated team in the WCHL.
Now San Diego will try to conquer a much larger, younger league in the ECHL and Martinson is eager to see how his squad matches up.
“Our secret formula is to have the biggest, toughest, fastest, most talented team in the league,” said the 47-year-old Martinson, who amassed 2,771 penalty minutes in a career that included 49 NHL games with Detroit, Montreal, and Minnesota. “We’ve always stuck to that formula. We have the same types of players every year. We’re younger now. That’s the big difference.”
The Gulls were able to get younger this season, partially because they had to (ECHL veteran rules limit them to four players with 288 or more games of pro experience entering the season) and because of their first NHL affiliation, with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.