ST. LOUIS — A few years ago, Pat Maroon played a game at Enterprise Center with the Edmonton Oilers, scoring the deciding goal against the St. Louis Blues.
After the game, a reporter asked Maroon about his son. Anthony, who was in the hometown crowd as Maroon skated around as an Oiler. Maroon, with tears filling his eyes, talked about missing his son and sounded like a wounded Paul Bunyan as he did so. It captured the hearts of hockey fans across America, but also opened up an idea about the big guy coming home.
After a short stop in New Jersey, Maroon came home for the 2018-19 season in St. Louis. After a slow start, for both himself and the team, followed by a coaching and goaltending change, Maroon and St. Louis went all the way to the promised land. He helped by scoring two key goals against the Dallas Stars, both game-winners, with the final one coming in the waning seconds of a second overtime in Game 7. A play that will become as memorized as David Freese's two-run triple did 8 years before the tap-in that made Maroon a legend forever in this town.
Well, Maroon wasn't satisfied with one Cup. After all, The Big Rig can easily hold two Stanley Cups on his resume, and that's what he did on Monday night against the Dallas Stars.
As a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Maroon once again helped put Dallas' light out in the playoffs. With the Lightning up 1-0, Maroon stormed the offensive zone and executed the simplest yet sweetest drop pass for Tampa Bay to finish off and seal the game off for good. A hometown hero became a Bay hero in a little over a year.
It's hard not to feel good for Maroon, the former Blue and journeyman NHL winger who makes players around him better. A talent that had to fight and claw for every opportunity as a kid and teen in the sport, which made the reuniting with one of his old coaches in Tampa a very fine idea last summer. Five teams and two Cups is a nice haul for a guy most never expected to make it out of amateurs.
He should be a reminder that in the world of sports, a no can lead to a yes... if you are willing to work for it. All it takes is determination and some skill, along with some good timing, for the mountain to be easier to climb.
Maroon wasn't handed anything. He didn't receive much credit when he was Connor McDavid's wingman, but then again, what wingman ever receives proper credit? He did well with New Jersey, albeit briefly, and performed the duties of a third line winger with St. Louis and Tampa Bay in just the right way. There was a time in January of 2019 that some thought Maroon was headed out of St. Louis, possibly towards the end of a once-lit career. And then everything changed, and the rest is history.
2020 became history for Maroon all over again. He is only the third player to win a Stanley Cup in back-to-back seasons for different teams since the expansion in 1967, joining Cory Stillman and Claude Lemieux. A couple years ago, he was a guy taking less money and a risk to come home with his childhood team. Today, he's got a couple trips around the sun with Lord Stanley and what should be a big table of suitors for his services next season, whenever that actually kicks off.
Maroon isn't a team savior. He never was. He isn't going to score 30 goals or put up 75 points. Maroon will fight if needed, skate into every dirty area of the ice, make his teammates look good, and be able to keep the young players in check. Teammates believe in him and appreciate his contributions. Remember the series clinching goal in the Eastern Conference Final, where Maroon was the perfect screen. Name it what you will. Perfect screen, nice drop pass, or just a finisher when needed. That's Maroon.
Heck of a story, that Pat Maroon. An inspiring tale that should give a few doubtful teenagers all the reason they need to keep playing, keep putting the stinky pads to learn and become better. Hard work leads to the ultimate reward, at least that's how it went for Maroon.
An American sports success story for the ages. The Blues may not have made it back, but Maroon and former Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk did, which gives the Lou back a little of its hockey swagger.