TAMPA, Fla. — Pat Maroon was simply doing his job.
In Sport 3 of the Stanley Cup Last, the Tampa Bay Lightning winger handed the puck to teammate Nikita Kucherov. His job was to go straight to the Colorado Avalanche web and get behind their protection. As soon as he did, he shouted “yeah, yeah!” to Kucherov, who hit him with a move that Maroon roofed for the Lightning’s fifth objective of their 6-2 rout.
After Maroon’s wide-grin celebration, the 34-year-old tapped gloves with the 26-year-old Kucherov and mentioned, “Good play … child.”
A number of days earlier, Maroon had a unique job. It wasn’t lighting up the scoreboard. It was lightening the temper.
It was the day earlier than Sport 2 of the Stanley Cup Last. The Lightning had been stretching on the ice in Denver, down 1-0 of their collection in opposition to the Avalanche. It was Kucherov’s birthday, and Maroon, the crew’s bruising however jocular veteran winger, tried to get a refrain of “Joyful Birthday To You” going for his star teammate.
The tune fizzled, so Maroon moved to his subsequent tension-breaker: playfully slashing teammates throughout their morning skate.
“Clearly coming off the loss, it is necessary to show the web page,” defenseman Victor Hedman mentioned. “I feel that is what made us profitable up to now is to place stuff behind us. Pat is excellent in these conditions. He has been all through the season and all of the years he is been right here.”
It is Maroon’s third season in Tampa. He received the Stanley Cup in every of his first two. The Lightning are searching for a three-peat, however Maroon has already achieved that feat, having received the Stanley Cup with the 2019 St. Louis Blues, too.
“I am very fortunate and really lucky to be part of this. I take this recreation very critically,” Maroon mentioned. “It by no means will get previous for me. You like the sacrifice. You like the happiness within the room after a giant win.”
If there’s happiness within the room, Maroon is ceaselessly the supply for it.
“He brings numerous character,” coach Jon Cooper mentioned. “He is in a room the place there’s not very a lot noise, he is creating an environment in that room. Which was much-needed in our group. We have numerous character in our room however not a ton of characters. And he is a personality.”
From his attention-grabbing game-day fits to his wickedly humorous on-ice insults — he as soon as mocked Josh Anderson of the Montreal Canadiens for having the identical variety of factors as Maroon, “which is embarrassing” — Maroon is “one in all a sort,” based on defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
“He is fairly the distinctive particular person,” McDonagh mentioned. “We had performed him. Heard quite a bit about his character and how much locker room man he was. However I assumed he was sort of an odd man.”
McDonagh and Maroon share an agent. When Maroon was a free agent and searching for a crew with which to signal, he and McDonagh performed a few rounds of golf collectively in Minnesota.
What’s it wish to golf with Pat Maroon?
“He simply likes to have numerous enjoyable on the market,” McDonagh mentioned with amusing. “Typically it isn’t in regards to the shot he hits. It is about all the opposite actions.”
Whether or not it was the golf recreation or not, Maroon signed with the Lightning in August 2019. It was his fifth NHL cease. He began his profession with the Anaheim Geese for 5 seasons, then was with the Edmonton Oilers for components of three earlier than going to the New Jersey Devils on the 2018 commerce deadline. His solely season with the Blues resulted in his first Stanley Cup championship — a memorable journey for the St. Louis native.
He joined the Lightning at one in all their lowest factors throughout Cooper’s time with the crew — following their first-round sweep loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets that sullied among the best common seasons in NHL historical past. The nervousness on the crew was wrenching. The strain of unfulfilled expectations was crushing.
They wanted a tension-breaker.
They wanted Pat Maroon.
“When he got here in, the massive factor for us was that he introduced some life to the room but in addition a pedigree of successful and what it takes to win,” Cooper mentioned. “[Kevin] Shattenkirk was very a lot in the identical mould — guys that introduced a unique perspective, some life, but in addition bought to see how we performed and issues we might do to push us excessive. That is what Patty introduced. He is fairly a personality, that child.”
McDonagh mentioned he might really feel the distinction the minute Tampa Bay signed Maroon. “It is his means to maintain the room unfastened at occasions or be critical and get the main focus again. It is a distinctive trait. Not numerous guys can do it and appear pure,” McDonagh mentioned.
That is the key to Pat Maroon’s success and his standing as one of many important items to the Lightning’s championship puzzle. One minute, he is chopping up the locker room with a bellowing joke. The subsequent, he is saying one thing they’re taking to coronary heart at a important second.
“It looks as if he was one thing we wanted on the ice and in addition off the ice,” winger Alex Killorn mentioned. “He is a pacesetter. A man that is been round for some time. An efficient participant, not solely in his function however serving to different gamers.
“All through the season, there are occasions when it’s a must to take a breath and chill out, get pleasure from your self, simply so you do not burn out. After which there are occasions when one thing must be mentioned and issues must tighten up. The older guys, particularly Pat, perceive that dichotomy.”
Ahead Pierre-Edouard Bellemare knew Maroon as an opponent earlier than he arrived in Tampa final summer season. He heard his chirps on the ice. He wasn’t conscious of his phrases within the locker room.
“Once I bought right here, I noticed it is bizarre. With all of his chirping and the whole lot, you’d assume the man is sort of a clown,” Bellemare mentioned. “However on the finish of the day, in the case of hockey, he is as a rule good on. When he talks within the locker room, he has a fantastic understanding of what must be mentioned and what the fellows want to listen to. I feel it is one in all his greatest values that folks do not learn about.
Bellemare had performed with “pump-up” gamers earlier than: these guys who convey the power or the humor.
“This isn’t that sort of hype. It is extra about saying the appropriate factor on the proper time to ensure the group would not fall in unhealthy habits. Or including to a terrific momentum. That is one thing that he would not get acknowledged sufficient for,” he mentioned of Maroon. “You do not go and win three [in a row] simply since you’re on actually good groups. It’s a must to add one thing to them.”
What Maroon hopes he is added to the Lightning is the sort of veteran presence he valued as a younger participant himself. One who’s jovial, motivating and, maybe greater than something, welcoming.
Nick Paul is 27. He spent seven seasons with the Ottawa Senators earlier than being traded to the Lightning on the deadline. He had by no means stepped into one other NHL locker room. He mentioned Maroon instantly made the transition a smoother one.
“He is superior. Particularly off the ice. He was one of many first guys to ask me out for dinner, helped me really feel welcome,” Paul mentioned. “He is a pacesetter within the room. When issues should be mentioned, he is by no means shy about stepping up and saying laborious issues. Or saying humorous issues. He is a giant voice within the room.”
Paul is a charismatic participant himself. “I would not say foolish, however I am positively a man that retains it mild,” he mentioned.
To that finish, Paul is already treating Maroon like a job mannequin on what to say and when to say it. “Having the ability to flip the swap when it’s worthwhile to. When the sport begins, the jokes are over. It is critical. It is the whole lot we will do to win,” Paul mentioned.
On the ice, Maroon does all he can to assist the Lightning, together with performing as their de facto enforcer when obligatory. That solely provides to his authenticity inside the locker room.
“The most important key for him is that he cares about his teammates and he is keen to do something to assist them,” McDonagh mentioned. “It helps. Particularly when he needs to be stern. At the back of our minds, we all know he loves everybody in that locker room a lot.”
Pat Maroon might be the category clown. He might be the motivational speaker. Ask Maroon, and you will find out he might be like Dominic Toretto from “The Quick and the Livid,” too: It is all about household.
“It is about constructing that household vibe,” Maroon mentioned. “To know that should you textual content a man they’re going to be at your own home in two minutes.”
It is one thing he realized from his days in Anaheim.
“I am a agency believer in constructing that chemistry away from the rink. Once you come to the rink, you may really feel so significantly better. Particularly while you’re a younger man,” he mentioned. “I bear in mind coming to the rink in Anaheim and the way a lot it meant to me to get a ‘good morning’ from Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry or Teemu Selanne, guys that you just look as much as. If they are saying good morning to you, your day is so significantly better.”
Maroon’s arrival in Tampa led to higher days for the Lightning. He continues so as to add his distinctive items to this drive for a three-peat, together with a objective in Sport 3 — a recreation that gave the Lightning new life within the Stanley Cup Last.
“I feel it is how mentally sturdy our group is. Not giving up. We might have folded in Sport 6 in opposition to Toronto and mentioned, ‘What a fantastic run it was.’ As a substitute, we bought that previous swagger again,” he mentioned.
“There is a window that is going to be closing quickly. Let’s go on the market and make historical past.”