The dichotomy between professional athletes and everybody else when it comes to money and needs is a laborious slope to navigate, providing no easy answers.
Take the Pat Maroon situation for example.
The 31-year-old winger just won a Stanley Cup in his hometown. The dream that he rode around South County with as a little boy played out exactly how he drew it up last summer. He took less money and years to come home to St. Louis, even though New Jersey and other spots provided more luxury and security.
He took a $1.75 million one-year offer to be close to his son, Anthony, and achieve a childhood dream, and it happened. A year later, the same situation presents itself in the most awkward way possible.
I think Doug Armstrong and the Blues are going to offer Maroon a contract to stay in town, but it won’t be as rich as Calgary, who is reported to have solid interest in the man’s services. Maroon will get a deal to stay in town, play with the Blues, and contend for another Stanley Cup in 2020. Calgary won 50 games this past season, but were ghosted by the Colorado Avalanche in five games.
While Calgary could return to the playoffs, the Blues have as good, if not better, of a chance of seriously contending next spring. Maroon knows it, the Blues know it, and so should you.
It’s a simple question. Do you want to go up to Canada and play for three to four seasons, with a fair chance to playoff contention? The Flames have won one playoff round during the past ten years.
Or do you want to stay in St. Louis, play for a team that will only get better, and make some decent money? After all, the Blues just won the Stanley fucking Cup. Their entire roster for the most part is returning for the 2019-20 season. Gloria will be played, wins will happen, and the Central Division is still on notice. Everything that could go wrong went wrong in the 2018-19 season, and look what happened.
How much money does a guy need? This is where the dichotomy comes into play. A difference between two groups of people, one living in the clouds of millions and the other living down on land. If I put myself into Maroon’s shoes, I’d take the St. Louis offer. I couldn’t imagine being away from my son, Vinny, for as long as Maroon was from his boy, much less coming back for a single year and then leaving again.
He’s 31 years old and closer to the end than the beginning, but still has more than a few years in this league. The decision seems easy to me, but I am not in the same group as Maroon. A fascinating situation that only grows more so when you bring the human elements into the conversation.
For those who think Maroon shouldn’t come back, shut the fuck up. We are talking about a playoff beast here who scored TWO vital goals against the Dallas Stars. If he doesn’t score those goals, the Blues may not win the Cup. He got off to a slow start, but don’t forget he was coming off back surgery. You ever play good hockey with a bad back at the NHL level? No. If he can trim down, Maroon would be a solid addition to this roster. He can do things others can not do, and at a vital hour.
But Armstrong has to put a cap on the nostalgia. He needs to offer Maroon a contract that he would give to a player who isn’t from Oakville. I would say a 2-3 year deal worth $2.5-3 million per season sounds more than fair. The savings on the Jay Bouwmeester and Carl Gunnarsson contracts affords some leeway here. It just can’t slip into unhealthy love for a hometown hero.
Maroon came home, did the thing, and now has a choice to make. If he leaves, the memories won’t dim at all. People will remember the push, tip in, and mad frenzy of that wild finish to the Dallas series. They will remember it forever.
That was then, and his future now looms. This will likely be the most valuable he looks on the free agent market. This is his last chance at a big payday, but it also stands as a true test for Maroon.
I hope he stays. I like him on this team, paired up with Tyler Bozak and a youngster, wrecking havoc in front of the net and shouting at opponents. I like that he gets better as the year goes along, and has a comfort that a first year back in town can’t provide.
I like Maroon in St. Louis, but I’m not in the same group of people as him.
Mere weeks after winning the Stanley Cup in his city, Pat Maroon has to make the decision of a lifetime. A decision that says more about him than the actual game.