Blackhawks

5 Questions with...NBC 5's Natalie Martinez

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5 Questions with...NBC 5's Natalie Martinez

Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the city's most popular personalities on the spot with everyone's favorite weekly local celeb feature entitled "5 Questions with..."

On Wednesdays, exclusively on CSNChicago.com, it's our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This week's guest, one of the top field reporters in Chicago broadcast journalism today whose passion and dedication to her craft has earned her accolades from both her peers and fans alike, she's been a mainstay at NBC 5 Chicago News for the past decade and, as busy as she is, she still finds time to enjoy Chicago's terrific social scene on a regular basis, a native New Yorker who now calls Chicago home, here are "5 Questions with...NATALIE MARTINEZ!"

BIO: Natalie Martinez joined NBC 5 as a general assignment reporter in January 2001.

You've seen Natalie covering major stories such as the recent Illinois state elections to the UAL trial that nearly grounded the nations largest carrier. You've also seen her cover stories that matter to the "little guy.

With over a decade of reporting and anchoring, she came to NBC 5 from WXXA-TV, the Fox station in Albany, NY. During her final two years at WXXA, Martinez was the primary anchor there. She had previously worked as a reporter and weekend anchor at WXXA. Prior to her work at WXXA, Martinez had worked as an anchor, reporter, and producer for several upstate New York television and radio stations. Here in Chicago, Natalie is very active and recognized in the Latino community and a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists; UNAVOZ, a Hispanic leadership association; and the National Association for Female Executives. She also does charitable work for LOOKINGLASS and STAR LIGHTSTAR BRITE foundations among others, and frequently serves as Mistress of Ceremonies for a variety of charitable events throughout the year.

A native of Buffalo, NY, Martinez is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, and University of North London on scholarship.

1) CSNChicago.com: Natalie, that was quite an Election Day experience for the entire state of Illinois last week and the upcoming Chicago mayoral election in February definitely looks to be interesting with potential candidateformer White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel likely to appear on the ballot. Journalism ethics aside, are you personally surprised with the recent outcome of the U.S. Senator victory for Mark Kirk (R) over Alexi Giannoulias (D) and, a follow-up question; do you think Kirks win is a sign that the people of Illinois are disappointed with the current White House leadership of President Obama?

Martinez: As far as the Senate race, I wasn't terribly surprised. The feeling that I got from voters was that they were on the fence the whole time. Many expressed to me that the ONLY reason they were voting for Giannoulias was because, if they were democratic, they didn't want to lose the seat in DC. Then, obviously, many didn't vote that way in the end. Not a very good reason to vote FOR or AGAINST anyone, if that's the only reason you can come up with, right? That is certainly just one sign that I've seen anyway, that people are disappointed with politics in general.

Everything about the mayoral race - including the abrupt announcement by the mayor himself - is interesting. I can't wait to see what happens in February.

2) CSNChicago.com: Youre approaching your 10-year anniversary being in Chicago and at NBC 5. Congrats on that by the way! With the countless number of stories youve covered over the past decade, there has to be that one tough story you covered that you still think about to this day. Tell us about that story.

Martinez: It's not the only one that I think about daily, but it's one of the main stories I just can't forget about.

I always think about Frankie Valencia. The story bothers me to no end. He was the stand-out DePaul student who was gunned down outside a Halloween party last year. The suspects were known gang bangers who felt "dissed" by being turned away from the party. Frankie and his friend just happened to have walked into the party and were shot randomly by the suspects, who returned, armed, to exact their revenge.

I met his mom in a heartfelt interview. I spoke with people at his school who couldn't have painted a more perfect picture of a human being.

So that kind of senseless violence, that ends in the death of one of the most promising young men I've ever heard about, hurts me to the core. I keep his photo on my desk and another on a picture frame at home to remind me of what we're doing on the streets of Chicago. It wasn't long after the stories aired, that the alleged killers were caught.

3) CSNChicago.com: Two-part question coming up. Youre from New York state, so who would you say is your all-time favorite New York athleteand since youve been in Chicago, who is your favorite all-time Chicago athlete?

Martinez: For New York, I always loved Pat LaFontaine. When he was playing with the Sabres, he was always exciting to watch. And he'd come into the restaurant I worked at, sometimes missing a tooth. I didn't realize for about a year it was the same guy I enjoyed watching on the ice. I thought he may have been in need of a dental plan!

For Chicago, Patrick Kane! He's also from Ruff Buff (Buffalo) and I'm just so proud of that Blackhawks team last year! CHICAGO NEEDED THAT! Don't you agree?! In addition, he combines the hard-core drinking methods admired by both Buffalonians and Chicagoans (laughing).

4) CSNChicago.com: Theres no question the NBC 5 newsroom is filled with many talented on-air anchorsreporters. This may be a tough one to answer, but who do you admire most in that newsroom and why?
Martinez: I admire my news director Chris Pena and our VP of News Frank Whittaker. I mean it. Theyre always in first and out last. And the rest of us just fill in the blanks. They make the decisions and get the ball rolling when the rest of us focus on just one story or portion of the newscast. These guys have command of everything, and make it look easy.

5) CSNChicago.com: With Thanksgiving coming up in a couple of weeks, family traditions (be it a big feast, watchingplaying football, etc.) are commonplace for this festive holiday. What Martinez family tradition(s) did you most enjoy growing up and still enjoy to this day?

Martinez: I had an unconventional upbringing, but I will say this.... our most recent traditions are as follows:

Step one: Get everyone to dad and step-moms house from wherever they are on the map (they live in Buffalo)

Step two: Eat, drink, repeat

Step three: Repeat that again

Step four: Watch a LOT of football and bad TV

Step five: Attempt to work off a few pounds running around with the kids in the family

Step six: Make phone calls to immediate family and pass the phone around the tablehouse

Step seven: Slip into food coma

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Anything you would like to promote Natalie? Tell usCSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it!

Martinez: Let's see. I'm emceeing the Puerto Rican Bar Association's annual dinner this week. Then, I'm doing the Willis Tower stair climb for work (my nickname here is "Extreme Martinez" because I've done a lot of crazy stories lately, including flying in a by-plane for the Air & Water Show, BMX riding, race car driving, etc.).

I'm supposed to be in a wing eating contest this week as well, but I'm working 2-10p, so I'll have to have someone step in for me (ha!).

Oh! Next week, I'm also working with Urban Prep for a charity, a Harry Potter screening.

Martinez LINKS:

NBC 5 Chicago News official website

Natalie Martinez on Facebook

E-mail Natalie Martinez

Blackhawks’ much-maligned power play is now clicking

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks’ much-maligned power play is now clicking

It’s an annual rite of passage if you cover or are a fan of the Blackhawks: you question the power play, because there always seems to be an issue with the power play. You wonder why every season, given the talent on this team. And again this fall the power play has sputtered.

But a funny thing happened at the end of the weekend. The Blackhawks’ power play started to look good, started to generate chances and started to score. In 10 games prior to the Blackhawks’ Nov. 12 game against New Jersey they had just three power-play goals in 40 opportunities. In their last three games (vs. the Devils, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins), they’ve tallied five goals on 13 opportunities.

So what’s been working?

“I’ll probably give you the same answer as when it wasn’t working: pucks to the net, guys in front,” Patrick Sharp said. “We have the shot mentality more so than just moving it around and getting it set up. You look at the goals we’ve scored, it’s nothing overly complicated. It’s just getting the puck to the net. Just stay with it.”

Sounds simple enough, but the stay-with-it part has probably been the toughest segment of the equation. When the Blackhawks slumped they really slumped, and their lack of confidence on the power play was as evident as their lack of scoring on it. Yes, stressing over it can have its affect; and when the Blackhawks got those two power-play goals against the Devils it seemed to be a release.

“You get one, that weight gets lifted off your chest a little bit, you can play a little loser and maybe not grip your stick as tight as when things weren’t going well,” Cody Franson said. “When you’re confident out there you’re moving the puck cleanly, things happen a little quicker for you and give you those better looks at good chances. When you’re not that confident sometimes you’re not executing as well and things were moving slower and you’re not generating too much. Confidence definitely plays a big part in it.”

So back to what’s working. The Blackhawks started becoming more active on the power play, cutting down on the passes and increasing the shots. They’ve been there for rebounds. They started feeding off the success, be it with the power play as a unit or with individual performances. Artem Anisimov has returned to being a force at the net again; of his five goals in his last three games, two are power-play goals.

“A couple of broken plays and sometimes you get some breaks. You win a faceoff and make a quick little play after a couple of great opportunities on the prior whistle there that didn’t go in. I just think shots at the net and traffic and off that, sometimes they go in,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Our entries have always been alright this year, so we’re getting zone time and let’s get some simpler looks and sometimes they go in. I think gaining confidence there, it seems like we’re having the puck more and longer and sustaining some offense off it.”

The Blackhawks have struggled more than they’ve succeeded on the power play the last few seasons. But as their overall scoring has increased again, so has their power-play production. Good timing.

“People tend to say the power play can keep you in games and the penalty kill can win you games. Our penalty kill’s been great and has given us chances in a lot of games. [Corey Crawford’s] been playing pretty well,” Franson said. “And when our power play can give us success we find ourselves in better situations to try and win games.”

High School Lites Podcast: Rules, regulations ... and repeat champions?

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High School Lites Podcast: Rules, regulations ... and repeat champions?

Can Prairie Ridge repeat as state champions? Will Rochester and IC Catholic Prep do the same? It’s championship weekend at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb for IHSA football.

On the latest High School Lites Podcast, Joe Collins and “Edgy” Tim O’Halloran wrap up the 2017 prep season and discuss the games on NIU’s campus this weekend.

Could some contests go down to the last play? A lot of playoffs games have done just that in recent memory. And referees are the ones who keep a continuous rundown of checks of balances as plays and game flow escalate. The guys are joined by Steve Garbaciak, the President of the Joliet Football Officials and member of the IHSA’s official advisory committee and a 25-year veteran of the IHSA. Steve chronicles how the game has changed in the last quarter century, and he details how to maintain judicial balance in games of critical importance.

It's all on the latest High School Lites Podcast. Listen to the episode below: