13 months ago, Pat Maroon came home.
After spending the first seven years of his NHL career on opposite ends of the world-hitting the West Coast, East Coast, and Canada during that span-the Oakville native returned to St. Louis to go for it all. He signed a one year deal worth $1.75 million, with the idea of an extension in the New Year.
By the time Jan. 1 rolled around, Maroon was closer to leaving town than he was making long term plans to stick around. And then the Stanley Cup run happened, and immortality settled in for Maroon and his entire family.
Thinking about on his time in St. Louis brings a Rocky-esque nostalgia to mind, because truth be told, the one year in the Lou was a rough and tumble experience for the 31-year-old winger known as the Big Rig. Here was a guy who was never picked to be a star, drafted 161st overall and constantly up against the odds. Why would his time wearing the Blue Note be anything but dramatic?
Three months into the 2018-19 season, Maroon had 11 points in 31 games and was a healthy scratch more times than expected. Both Mike Yeo and Craig Berube scratched him, which led some to believe he wouldn’t even finish the season. Maroon recovered, netting 10 goals and 18 assists to finish the season in respectable fashion. Robert Thomas is no Connor McDavid, but pairing him with Maroon and Tyler Bozak brought out the best in the trio. They clicked, thus helping the Blues clicked.
Maroon saved his best for last. The hometown hero nuked the Dallas Stars’ Cup hopes by beating them in two different games. Don’t forget about the puck he feathered over Ben Bishop’s shoulder to win a game on the road. Everyone will rightfully set the Game 7 double overtime winner in stone, because it only gets more beautiful with every watch. Thomas takes the puck, drives to the net like a point guard, and Maroon is the power forward dunking the puck into the net. It’ll live in glorified air forever. Just remember he did that twice.
I don’t think the Blues get past Dallas without Maroon’s heroics. Right then and there, he earned that $1.75 million. Two playoff game-winners equals that. Check the hockey sabermetrics if you want, but I assure you that it’s basic science.
When free agency broke out and Maroon didn’t receive that rumored big offer from the Calgary Flames and the Blues remained mum on their plans, the doubt settled in about his future in St. Louis. Watching Zach Sanford, Sammy Blais, and Oskar Sundqvist all get juicy deals only solidified the reality that there would be no encore for Maroon. Some things, even ones involving a Stanley Cup trophy, include a bittersweet edge to them. Stories with a few wrinkles in the pages.
Maroon may have signed with Tampa Bay for a bargain price of $900,000 on Saturday, but he was already gone. The ending had been written weeks ago, at least in my mind. He’ll go down south, pair up with a team carrying the biggest chip on their shoulder (most regular season points, zero playoff wins), and hopefully find some more playoff success. A healthy offseason without back surgery will help. The nerves and pressure from following up a Stanley Cup run eliminated from his mind. It’s probably for the best.
I’ll miss his presence. As an outsider-type screaming hockey writer, I can afford to speak my mind without offending players and coaches. I wrote a pair of articles when he signed praising the deal, but did write a critical piece in January when he stumbled. I would go on to write an article on his comeback in the regular season and his playoff heroics. Basically, I’ve covered his season from soup to nuts.
I probably won’t write another Maroon article, and while that makes me sad, I’ll thank him on the way out. Let’s shotgun a PBR, take our shirt off, put a suit coat on, and get to it then.
Thank you Pat for coming home. You had better offers out there, but came home for a reason and could retire today and be a sports hero in this town.
Thank you Pat for helping the young players on this team grow. Thomas will take with him a bevy of knowledge from playing with you and riding along.
Thank you Pat for reminding us why hockey beards are the best sports beards.
Thank you Pat for telling the Stars they were fucked.
Thank you Pat for telling Jamie Benn to shut the fuck up.
Thank you Pat for telling Brad Marchand that stealing dreams from sewer rats is cool. (okay, that one is made up!)
Thank you Pat for filling the Stanley Cup with marinara sauce and dipping toasted ravioli in it.
Thank you Pat for letting so many people touch the Cup during the parade.
Thank you Pat for being a consummate pro and not bitching to media when you were benched.
Thank you Pat for never letting adversity collect a ten count on you. It can knock you down, but it can never fucking win.
Thank you Pat for letting us get to know Anthony. That’s a good kid.
Thank you Pat for following through on a promise and bringing a Stanley Cup to St. Louis.
Thanks for the memories, big guy. Long may you run in Tampa. See you in November.