Got the swagger
Stanley Cup winner Patrick Maroon brings championship pedigree to Lightning
TORONTO — Patrick Maroon was sitting in the visitor’s dressing room at Scotiabank Arena and playing with the teal-coloured bracelet — the one that has “LAILA STRONG” written in big, block letters — dangling around his left wrist.
It’s a reminder of his time in St. Louis, and of a little girl whose courage and strength became a rallying cry for a team whose season was on the ropes, but miraculously went on to win the Stanley Cup. It’s a reminder of everything that went right in a year that started so wrong.
For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it was the opposite.
Which makes Maroon’s presence in the dressing room somewhat awkward. After all, the thing that ultimately got him a contract with the Lightning is the one thing that he can’t really talk about it.
“I don’t want to come here and say, ‘Yeah, we won a Stanley Cup,’ ” said Maroon. “That’s rubbing it in people’s faces.”
None of his new teammates want to hear about how he won a championship last season. Not yet, anyway. The wounds from Tampa’s own first-round exit are still fresh.
So don’t expect Maroon to wear his championship ring around his new teammates. The bracelet is different. While it’s yet another reminder, it’s less about how the Blues won the Cup and more about why they won.
And that’s something Maroon hopes to impart on a Tampa team that began this season in need of direction.
“My job is to come in here and try to lead by example and actually talk about how we got there and what it took to get there and what we need to do to get better as a hockey club,” said Maroon. “That’s what I want to bring.”
Once again, the Lightning entered this season as the Stanley Cup favourite.
No one can yet make sense of what happened last year, when Tampa set all kinds of records in the regular season and then got swept in the first round of the playoffs.
Were they too confident, too cocky? Too small to handle the meat grinder of the post-season? Did they lack leadership? Experience?
No one knows for sure. All that matters is Tampa doesn’t go down the same road again.
That’s where Maroon comes in. The 6-foot-2 and 236-lb. winger, who scored the double-ot winner in Game 7 of the Blues’ Western Conference semifinal versus Dallas, adds size to a lineup that got pushed around by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
He’s a power forward in the classic sense, someone who is not afraid to dish out hits or plant himself in front of the net.