I knew Marty over 25 years as he was President of the Hartford Whalers Booster Club when I joined. Marty loved the Whalers and Kevin Dineen, in particular. To most people, Marty was Mr. Trips – he would spend countless hours coordinating hockey trips to NHL cities so that the local fans and booster club members could watch their team do battle with opposing clubs on enemy ice. There was always something extra on a Mr. Trips’ excursion; it might be lunch or dinner at a special place to a visit to Niagara Falls, where Marty could watch the spectacle for hours on end. He arranged trips from one side of the country to the other and many places in-between, from Miami in the old, rat-infested building at South Beach to the West Coast.
One of the most memorable trips, was to attend the final NHL game played at “the Aud” in Buffalo. While the game was very forgettable for the Whalers, the trip was far from over. After stopping at the Falls for a look see, it was on to Toronto to visit The Hockey Hall o Fame. That would have been a great trip, but it was not over yet! The Stanley Cup Playoffs were starting while we were in Toronto and the St. Louis Blues were in town to face off with the Maple Leafs with Wayne Gretzky playing for the Blues? So, you can imagine how hard it was to get a ticket to the game. Marty asked if anyone was interested in attending the game at Maple Leaf Gardens and of course there were 40 of us who said “yes.” I don’t know how he did it, but Marty was able to acquire tickets so we all saw a playoff game at Maple Leaf Gardens. What a trip! Last game played at “the Aud,” Hockey Hall of Fame, lunch at Gretzky’s Restaurant, and saw “The Great One” playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
I could go on, but it would take a book full of words to share all the highlights of Marty’s trips. Marty always worried that someone on one of his trips might not have a great time and that was how I came to know him as a person who truly cared for other people. I would tell him that “it was not his job to be sure everyone had an enjoyable time on a trip; that his job was to get us there and the good or bad experience was on us.” As I have stated, I do not believe there was anyone who loved the Whalers more than Marty and that includes Howard Baldwin. I don’t know Marty to have missed any home games or know of no one who had a larger memorabilia collection of Whaler items, Kevin Dineen in particular. Marty followed Kevin’s career wherever he played or coached and you wouldn’t see him at a game or Booster Club event unless he was wearing Kevin’s #11 Kelly green jersey. As time went on and we became close friends, it was my pleasure to be able to go on many hockey as well as NASCAR trips
Finally, I do know that we would never have accomplished our goal of seeing an NHL game in every league city if I hadn’t become such close friends with Marty. He was like a brother to me. It is said that in life you have many acquaintances and a few friends and that is certainly the case with Marty. When the Whalers left Hartford, Marty was one of the people responsible for the establishment of The Hartford Whalers Booster Club Scholarship. I could go on for pages telling of his loyalty to hockey in Hartford, the Booster Club and Kevin Dineen.
I will tell you that without the efforts of Marty “Mr. Trips” Evtushek, the Club would more than likely not exist at this time. I love and will miss you dearly, Marty. So long, Buddy.