Got the swag­ger

Stan­ley Cup win­ner Patrick Ma­roon brings cham­pi­onship pedi­gree to Light­ning

Edmonton Sun - - SPORTS - MICHAEL TRAIKOS [email protected]

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.

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