Welcome back, Pat.
A little more than five months after hoisting the Stanley Cup in Boston, Pat Maroon has returned to St. Louis. The hometown kid who lived the dream he had thought about since he was a boy heading up to the Old Barn on Oakland. A storybook ending that capped off a roller coaster season.
While it ended well, and certainly got better as the season progressed, Maroon’s time in St. Louis was full of highlights, doubts, and huge moments. He scored only a single goal in his first two months with the team, was healthy-scratched a few times, and didn’t adapt quickly. It wasn’t just a new team; St. Louis was home to Maroon, so there’s a certain level of pressure that comes with the job.
It does become more than just a game when everywhere you go, people want to sprinkle local royalty on your shoulders. It’s not easy coming back. Expectations are different, stakes are higher, and the endgame seems more distant.
But Pat did it. He helped the Blues win their first Stanley Cup. That’s all that matters. As I wrote for the Game Time paper this morning, as hard as it was and still seems at times, Doug Armstrong made the right call in letting Maroon walk. How could he top what happened this past spring? The team is moving towards youth slowly but surely, and Maroon didn’t fit.
That’s all that needs to be said. Now, let’s look back at some of the great moments the Big Rig offered the Blues faithful while he was here. One season, one run, one magical Cup.
5) The Best Fight
Feb. 9 against the Nashville Predators. Right when the winning streak started to become real, Maroon took on Cody McLeod in an old school scrap that former tough guy Cam Janssen would love. I say that because the opponent got the best of Maroon early on, but over the minute long fight, Maroon turned the tables and finished well. In the end, Maroon literally tried to push his fist through McLeod’s head. And it was right off the hop of the first puck drop.
While the Ilya Lyubushkin fight a month later-where Maroon hit him four times, ripped the man’s helmet off, hit him four more times-was golden, this Nashville battle was key and memorable. It was the first of a home/home back-to-back that truly ignited the famous streak. It also showed how valuable Maroon can be. He’ll score a goal, beat the shit out of your tough guy, and shotgun a beer before he gets dressed and leaves. Check it out.
4) Maroon’s first goal
Right before Thanksgiving, Maroon picked up his first goal as a Blue and it was classic Big Rig style. He collected a pass from David Perron, took the puck from the side of the net, around a defender, and stuffed it past the goaltender. Maroon has a soft touch around the goal and loved to his physicality to create space in front of the net.
3) The Game 3 winner against Dallas
This was just a pretty play all around. Jay Bouwmeester flips the puck around the back of the boards from the point, and Maroon gathers it in quickly before roofing it over Ben Bishop. There’s another goal against Dallas discussed here, but this was arguably Maroon’s best goal as a Blue. Not the most important one, but the best-looking. Many forget this one. It came with less than two minutes left in Game 3, which was a huge win to turn the table on the series. On the road, up against it, and series-changing.
2) “You guys are fucked!”
Four words, so much meaning, and one unforgettable GIF. If Ryan Reaves cemented his GIF legacy in St. Louis with the blown kiss to the Dallas bench, Maroon one-upped him with the four-word shout at the Boston Bruins bench. Skating back to the bench and chirped by a few Bruins, Maroon told them what they didn’t want to hear or realize. It was the Blues’ time and not Boston’s turn. A rally cry for all rally cries. A moment that didn’t involve a goal, assist, or fight. Just a fine premonition.
1) The Finisher
Game 7. Two overtimes. Bishop on his heels from 50 saves. The dude was stopping everything. Shots from the point, from the slot, and everywhere else. He was slowing down crime outside the arena, telepathically slowing down Donald Trump’s Twitter account, and increasing world peace. And then Robert Thomas took a face-off win from Tyler Bozak, charged the net, and fired a shot. Bishop didn’t stop that one; the post did. But Maroon came in and pushed the puck past the fellow hometown kid, sending the Blues to the Western Conference Final. The bench went nuts. Maroon went nuts. St. Louis went nuts.
That was when I thought the Blues could win it all. Right there. Bishop was a stud and St. Louis still beat him, thanks to Maroon. And it was just the tip of the blade, just enough.
We’ll always have that glorious spring. Without Maroon, the Blues may not win the Stanley Cup or reach the third round. He was exactly what they needed at that moment. He celebrated like any proud Oakville kid would. Shirtless, with a suit, and comfy slacks along with multiple beers. He dipped toasted ravioli from Charlie Gitto’s in Lord Stanley’s Cup. He became a legend in one season.
While he wears Lightning colors tonight, his legacy in St. Louis is cemented. What’s your favorite Maroon moment?