Getty Images - Matt Martin gets his stick into Andreas Lilja's face and yet the ugliest thing about this picture …
The hits category is something of a dubious one. Not only is what constitutes a hit highly subjective from arena to arena, but the league has only been keeping track of the statistic for less than a decade. Back in 2002-03, the Florida Panthers' Ivan Majesky, that destroyer of men, won the first hitting title with 147 collisions.
Then, perhaps feeling that any category that Ivan Majesky can win is a useless category, the NHL didn't even track hits the following year.
Post-lockout, however, the league became a little more dedicated and liberal in counting collisions. In 2008-09, Cal Clutterbuck set the single-season record in the category, registering 356 in his rookie campaign with the Minnesota Wild. There wasn't much fanfare, especially since the Wild's stat counters are known to be a little overeager.
But let's ignore that the record is based on wild subjectivity (pun) and that it's only three years old. It's a record, dammit, and it's in jeopardy of being broken by someone.
That someone is Matt Martin of the New York Islanders.
Martin has been the NHL's hits leader since November, and presently leads the league with 192. That's 20 more than Clutterbuck and 30 more than regular runner-up Dustin Brown.
He looks poised to dethrone Clutterbuck as hitting champion for the first time since the Wild winger came into the league, but more importantly, he's currently on pace for 358 hits, two more than the record.
Oh man, can he top it?
Don't think Martin is just running around making hits, by the way. He's developed into a real heart and soul guy for the Islanders. In addition to the frequency with which he steps into his opponents, he's also stepped into a third line role for New York.
He has put up 5 goals and 7 fighting majors this season and he looks poised to develop into one of those 10 goal, 10 fight guys that's so rare in the NHL.
But who cares about the special player he's becoming? He could break a record, you guys.
Sure, it's the league's least compelling record, but, you know, still.