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Chance at a second Stanley Cup drew Maroon to Tampa Bay

In landing Maroon, the Bolts add size and physicality to a roster already loaded with skill

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

National Hockey League veteran Pat Maroon says the goal of any player is to win as many Stanley Cups as possible.

Maroon, entering his 9th season in the League, captured his first Cup last season with his hometown St. Louis Blues, scoring two game-winning goals during the 26-game postseason ride, including a Game 7, double overtime, series-clinching goal against Dallas to send the Blues into the Western Conference Final.

The free agent forward signed a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning on August 24 with hopes of acquiring another Cup.

In recruiting Maroon, Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois didn't have to sell hockey in Tampa or playing for the Bolts in so much as figuring out a way to fit Maroon under the salary cap with restricted free agent Brayden Point still needing a contract.

Maroon is in the business of winning Cups, and the 31 year old feels like his best chance to get another is with the Lightning. Signing with Tampa Bay was, to him, a no-brainer.

Tweet from @patmaroon: @StLouisBlues @TBLightning @FrancescaAnna pic.twitter.com/wfiXPY4v2b

"I kind of knew going in what kind of an organization it was and how good that team really was," Maroon said. "And for me, that's what meant the most. I felt like Tampa and their style of hockey was the best fit and I can kind of bring a different element than they're used to seeing. I felt like I can help out. They didn't really have to sell much."

Maroon rattles off the Lightning's strengths: an elite goaltender in Andrei Vasilevskiy, a mix of proven veterans and uber-talented youngsters on a blue line led by perennial Norris Trophy candidate Victor Hedman and an unending wave of skilled, speedy forwards capable of scoring goals at an incredible rate.

Maroon isn't considered a prolific point producer, although he recorded back-to-back 40-point seasons in 2016-17 and 2017-18 and registered at least 10 goals each of the last three seasons, including a career-high 27 three seasons ago while with Edmonton.

But he won't be asked to rack up points or goals on the Lightning.

His skill set revolves around physicality, something the Lightning could use more of to help get them over the hump.

Maroon is an immovable object on the ice. Thus, his Big Rig nickname.

"I'm big. I'm physical. I have good hands around the net. I can wear D down when protecting the puck below the top of the circles," the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Maroon said. "I'm not the flashiest guy. I'm not the fastest guy, but I bring a different element where I can create space for not only my linemates but the team."

Maroon also possesses a familiarity with Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, the two partnering 14 years ago while with the Texarkana Bandits of the North American Hockey League, the lawyer-turned-hockey-coach Cooper fresh off a NAHL Coach of the Year award with the Tier 2 junior hockey Bandits coaxing all of the raw skill out of a self-described rotund 17-year-old ex-roller hockey player in Maroon.

By the time the two parted ways two seasons later, the Bandits were in St. Louis, Cooper had guided the Bandits to a Robertson Cup championship - the first of two straight for Cooper and the Bandits -- and Maroon was named league MVP, having recorded 23 points during the postseason run, a NAHL record that still stands.

After that season, Maroon was drafted in the sixth round (161st overall) by the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2007 NHL Draft.

"Coop had a lot to do with me moving forward and getting to the next level," Maroon said. "I got drafted under Coop to the Philadelphia Flyers. He kind of knows my history. We had a good relationship in the North American Hockey League. I'm just excited to work with him again. I know he's excited. Coop's a really good coach, and he does a lot of good for a lot of players."

That close relationship forged during those early-career battles in the NAHL remained even after the years removed from that championship run grew. Throughout their respective journeys from the minors to the NHL, Maroon and Cooper remained in contact.

Video: Maroon inks one-year, $900,000 deal with Lightning

"We won together. When you win, you kind of always keep in contact," Maroon explained.

When Maroon signed his contract with the Lightning, Cooper was one of the first people to reach out.

"He texted me right away. He was excited," Maroon said. "He was part of the process too of me getting signed. I'm just glad it all worked out and we got the deal done and excited to get down there."

Lightning supporters are excited to see Maroon too in a Bolts sweater. He becomes the only player on the roster to have won a Stanley Cup.

That experience should prove invaluable when the Lightning make another run at hockey's holy grail this season.

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