Steve Martinson, the winningest coach in the history of the West Coast Hockey League and a former tough guy for the Toledo Goaldiggers, said last night that he will decide shortly whether or not to accept an offer to become the new head coach of the East Coast Hockey League's Toledo Storm.
“I don't have a formal contract in front of me, but we've talked enough to know where the ballpark is on everything,” Martinson said. “I'm interested in the job. I wouldn't have gone this far with Mike [Miller, Storm vice president and gereral manager] if I wasn't.
“Nothing's set in stone. I'm going to make a decision by the end of the week. San Diego's owners don't want me to leave.”
In seven seasons with the San Diego Gulls, Martinson's teams have appeared in five WCHL Taylor Cup playoff championships, winning four times. After being eliminated by Fresno Saturday night in the Southern Conference finals, Martinson has a playoff coaching record of 49-23.
Martinson's clubs have also won four Founders Cups as WCHL regular-season champions and his teams have never lost more than 22 games in a season.
“I've talked to a number of candidates,” Miller said, “but Steve has had unparalleled success the past seven years.”
Miller's had conversations with Martinson's former coach in Toledo, Bill Inglis, about the vacancy that was created when the team announced last month that Dennis Holland's contract would not be renewed after Toledo failed to qualify for the Kelly Cup playoffs.
Former Goaldigger Claude Noel and longtime National Hockey Leaguer Gord Dineen have talked with Miller about the opening, too.
A member of Toledo's International Hockey League Turner Cup championship teams in 1981-82 and 1982-83, Martinson also played for the Diggers in 1984-85. He averaged nearly a fight a game during his time at the Sports Arena.
Martinson, 44, appeared in a total of 49 NHL contests with Detroit, Montreal and Minnesota during his 13-year pro career, scoring two goals and racking up 244 PIM's.
“The reason behind doing this, in my opinion, is to pursue coaching at the highest level,” Martinson said.
“It's a good fit for me because I've played in Toledo and in Detroit. I know the people and the affiliation between the two organizations.”