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Why it will always be easy to cheer for Pat Maroon

Boston Bruins v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Five Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Some things don’t change in life.

The satisfaction of a fresh car wash. The way a perfectly made latte, where the espresso still has the jump on the milk, makes you feel. The genuine pleasure of those first few sips of a good bourbon. When you don’t fuck up a steak.

You can add “rooting for Pat Maroon no matter what” to the list.

Maroon is two wins away from participating in his second straight Stanley Cup Final, this time with the Tampa Bay Lightning. A year ago, it was dawning on St. Louis Blues fans that he wouldn’t be coming back. The hometown hero came back to the Lou, helped the Blues win the Cup, and then left for Florida.

It wasn’t that cut and dry. Doug Armstrong couldn’t find $900,000 to keep his services in town. A decision I regret as a columnist and fan of this team, because Maroon brought so much to the locker room and ice that won’t show up on Hockey Reference or whatever site Gabriel Foley uses to create Christopher Nolan-type articles stuffed full of sabermetrics. Maroon was a clubhouse giant who picked younger players up, offered baby soft hands on the ice, and could mess with a goaltender’s view. Check out that series-winning screen on the Boston Bruins’ goaltender last week for reference on the last point. Or you could look at that other double overtime series-clinching, back-breaking goal against Dallas last spring.

Maroon is still playing while the Blues enjoy an early vacation, or a head start on the “keep Petro a Blue” sweepstakes. Now, I couldn’t make the full leap that Maroon on the Blues helps them overcome the Vancouver Canucks this summer. But he could have helped in a lot of ways that other players making $900K or around that could.

It could just be that I miss his presence on the ice. He’s the guy who scores big goals and gets in the opposition’s face, telling them at times that they are indeed “fucked.” The Blues had no big, scary dude on their roster this year. Robert Bortuzzo doesn’t count, sorry. If you had to send a message to the other team, who was going to send it? Brayden Schnenn throws his weight around, but nobody is afraid of him. Maroon was the guy who fought Zdeno Chara because it was going to lift his team up. A puck, not Maroon’s fist, would break Chara’s jaw in the Final last year, but he sent a message to Boston with that fight.

The Blues missed that in their locker room this year, especially after Jay Bouwmeester went down. I am glad the Blues took care of Zach Sanford, but they could have saved a million bucks for Maroon’s services. I like Mackenzie MacEachern and all, but is he more valuable than Maroon in the playoffs? Jacob de la Rose didn’t really move the needle. I am all for a youth movement, but a playoff team needs SOME size and experience.

It’s not just what he does on the ice that makes Maroon count; the community work he puts in remains vital. The Oakville native never forgets about home. When St. Louis police officer Tamarris Bohannon was gunned down in the line of duty, Maroon wrote his name on the tape of his hockey stick. While he was here and even in his absence, he has orchestrated and got behind several community projects.

After all, we are like Maroon in a way. We were all Blues fans at a young age dreaming of glory and Lord Stanley. Any kid who raised his hands in the garage driveway of their house knows what it’s like to be in Maroon’s shoes. He’s relatable and larger than life at the same time.

I miss that guy. I miss the guy who didn’t need a shirt inside his suit when celebrating at OB Clark’s last June. I miss the guy who removed an opponent’s helmet in between beating the crap out of him. I miss the guy who parked himself in front of the net. I miss the big rig who never goes away.

Maroon has the chance to win another Stanley Cup, his second in as many years. And while it won’t be Tampa Bay’s first Cup, it will only add to the Maroon legend. A legend that continues to grow outside of St. Louis.

He may be gone, but Pat Maroon will never be forgotten in this town.

I hope he wins it all again.