The St. Louis Blues faced off against a beaten-down Dallas Stars team in Game 7 of the second round, Tuesday night. For the first time all post-season, the Blues truly dominated a game. The only thing that held Dallas in was the performance from Vezina-finalist Ben Bishop. In what would end up being the final game of his best seasons yet, Bishop stopped an incredible 52 shots.
Bishop was impenetrable. There was nothing the Blues could do to beat him. His strong play forced the game to two overtimes. After over 85 minutes of play, both teams were searching for their hero. The Blues were able to find one first. In an almost romantic way, the hometown boy, Pat Maroon, buried a wobbling puck that squeezed by Bishop to end the game and send the Blues to the Western Conference Final.
Pat Maroon’s Continuing Story
There was no better way this game could have ended than with the Oakville native scoring the all-important game-winner in front of a roaring St. Louis crowd. To say this is a moment Maroon will never forget is an understatement. He was asked about scoring the goal after the game and told reporters:
“This is every kid’s dream, and to do it tonight is very special, especially with my whole family in the stands. We deserved that win tonight. It hasn’t really all hit me. What a roller-coaster. It’s emotional for sure. Probably the biggest goal I’ve scored in my career.”
The roller-coaster of emotions has not been confined to Maroon, though. After such an exhausting game for players and fans alike, everyone was elated. This includes Blues owner Tom Stillman who interrupted Maroon’s post-game scrum to embrace him and praise his play. Maroon was also joined by his 10-year-old son Anthony after the game. Anthony was clearly excited after watching his dad’s game-winner. He said the goal brought him to tears. “I was looking at the page with all the players, where they’re from and all that stuff. All I heard was everybody scream. My friend turns around and says, ‘It’s your dad!’ I just started crying.”
The Start to the St. Louis Chapter
Anthony was actually one of the biggest reasons Maroon came to St. Louis. He was born on September 2, 2008, roughly a year after Pat got drafted. The elder Maroon tried his best to balance family and hockey after Anthony was born. He would spend his summers in St. Louis, visiting his family, but would always have to leave following Anthony’s birthday to attend training camp. This was, obviously, very emotional for both parties. Pat said on the matter, “He cried a lot. I cried a lot. It sucks... It only got worse as Anthony got older. That was when he really started to understand...”
Combining being far away from his wife and son and struggling to find a spot in the NHL wore on Maroon. When he did make it to the show, he was bounced from team-to-team which only made things worse.
Maroon held onto hope, though, and after 11 years of having his fate decided through trades, he finally got to choose his own landing spot when he became an unrestricted free agent during the 2018 summer. Reports say that, while he didn’t have a lot of offers, there were a few teams interested. Of these teams, two were offering him over $2 million a year for two years, a modest price for a player of his caliber.
Before even thinking about those offers, Maroon made a bold move. Late one night he called Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. He told ‘Army’ that he wanted a chance to play for his hometown team; a chance to be with his family. The Blues granted him this wish. Nine days after free agency opened on July 1, it was announced that Maroon had accepted a one-year deal worth $1.75 million, nowhere near what other teams were offering him. Yet, the money didn’t matter to him. “For a player like me, that’s life-changing money.”
Now, 10 months later, Maroon doesn’t regret a thing. After scoring Tuesday night’s game-winner, he expressed his overjoy to be playing for his hometown to the media:
“I saw my son. He was crying. I saw him and I pointed to him. I’m proud. I’m proud to be from St. Louis and I’m proud to put that jersey on every night and I’m proud to work hard in front of these fans and to work hard for these guys that deserve it in here.”
The return to St. Louis has, hopefully, been everything Maroon could hope for and more. He has finally been fully reunited with his family while wearing the logo that he cheered for growing up. It is a beautiful story that was backed by a respectable season on the ice.
Maroon happily exceed his expected role of a simple depth-player. Through 74 games, the 30-year old had a modest 28 points. During the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he has added another four points in 13 games. While he wasn’t a high-scorer, he was the staple of the last two lines. He recorded the second-best CF%, and the best xGF% by far, of any bottom-six-regulars. This serves to show how much of a difference he made when he was on the ice, better than anyone else on the team’s bottom lines.
The Blues used Maroon as a mentor to help assimilate star rookie Robert Thomas into the league and it has clearly worked wonders. Thomas never looked entirely out of place in the NHL but working alongside seasoned veterans like Maroon and Tyler Bozak has clearly amplified his game over the course of the season. Now, the 19-year-old rookie has become one of the best Blues in the post-season, with a lot of credit to Maroon, who has still been the catalyst on his line.
While it was slightly up-in-the-air after the regular season, Maroon’s playoff heroics have all-but-guaranteed his return next season. He’s become a dream depth-player for the Blues, a role they’ve been searching to fill for a while. He will be one of 11 Blues to enter free agency this summer, although eight of those players are restricted-free-agents, and after a regular season to be proud of and a post-season that’s left fans admiring him, Maroon is definitely worthy of a raise this summer. However, just like he did last year, there’s a good chance he refuses any extravagant salary just to assure that he can continue living his dream of continuing the ‘Pat Maroon Saga’ alongside his family in his hometown of St. Louis.