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Maroon finds an NHL home in Anaheim

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM – Perhaps the funniest moment from the television program "NHL Revealed," which documented the lead-up to the 2014 Coors Light Stadium Series game at Dodger Stadium, was Drew Doughty's assessment of Anaheim Ducks forward Patrick Maroon.

During a game between the Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings, Maroon induced a tripping penalty on Doughty, the two-time Olympic gold medalist defenseman, which prompted the noted trash-talker.

"Buddy, you [stink] at hockey!" Doughty yelled at Maroon. "And you've been in the minors for how long? How long? And you're still on the fourth line? You're still on the fourth line."

Maroon grinned. At least Doughty knew his resume: five full seasons in the American Hockey League, including separate stints with organizations that changed cities. He's played in Texarkana, St. Louis, London, Philadelphia, Adirondack, Syracuse and Norfolk. It takes more than chirping to get Maroon rattled.

"It's part of the game," said Maroon, who turned 26 on Wednesday. "You chuckle at it. We were both doing it."

Four months later, it's apparent that Maroon won't see a minor league rink anytime soon as he continues to carve out a role with the Anaheim Ducks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He's not filling up the stat sheet but Maroon looks more like one of those unsung heroes every team needs to have a big postseason.

"I'm counting Patty as one of those [players], for sure," forward Teemu Selanne said. "If you look at all the great teams in the past, the first line's always there, the second. The third and fourth line? They're going to make a difference … there's always surprise players. Patty Maroon has been one of those guys for us. He's so strong and sneaky in the offensive zone; long reach, and he really wants to score. And he's hungry. That's the key."

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Maroon is a power forward who coach Bruce Boudreau put on a line with playmaking center Mathieu Perreault and the 43-year-old Selanne, and the trio has had some memorable games. They combined for two goals and three assists and Maroon had his first multiple-goal game as an NHL player in a 5-2 win against the San Jose Sharks on April 9. Maroon assisted on Perreault's goal in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Dallas Stars and scored in Game 4. He had another assist Friday night in Anaheim's 6-2 victory in Game 5.

"It's been fun," Maroon said. "Once he put us together, we've never looked back. [Perreault's] a little guy that works his butt off. He gets his nose dirty with guys 6-6, 6-2. He's got really good vision, really good skill. Teemu's got the speed, the hockey sense."

Maroon has it too. He plays on the Ducks' first power-play unit, using the skills that helped him lead the London Knights with 35 goals in 2007-08. He scored 32 goals for the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL in 2011-12 and has 58 goals and 66 assists in his past 139 AHL games.

He also spent a fair amount of time in the penalty box, but he's evolved that part of his game.

"I saw him in our little preseason camp," forward Daniel Winnik said. "I thought he was a real good player – big, good hands. I think he's really shown that now. I think he's really gotten into a zone. I think he realizes he doesn't have to fight to be in this League. He doesn't have to fight every night to stay in the lineup. The way he's producing is great. We need that in the playoffs."

Maroon's path to the NHL began with a wake-up call when former NHL player Kelly Chase, owner of the St. Louis Bandits of the North American Hockey League, told the teenage Maroon to drop some weight. Maroon, at his heaviest, was 240 pounds.

"I was 16 years old," he said. "I lost weight before my first year of juniors. It's an issue. You're growing up and maturing into your body and you put yourself on the offense."

The advice hit home. Maroon grew up in St. Louis and Chase was part of the Blues teams that he followed during the Brett Hull/Adam Oates era.

"He was really good to me," Maroon said of Chase. "He's one of the reasons I got drafted."

A sixth-round selection in the 2007 NHL Draft, Maroon came to Anaheim in 2010 with David Laliberte in exchange for Danny Syvret and Rob Bordson, a minor trade that garnered little attention.

Maroon will get more notice if he continues to produce in his first playoff appearance. NHL postseasons are dotted with unknown players who come out of nowhere. Think Chris Kontos of the Los Angeles Kings in 1989 or Joel Ward in 2011.

"He's an unknown as far as people in the media in the East," Boudreau said. "But he's played great for us. He's become a true power forward. It's his first playoffs, so we'll see how he can handle that as well."

In a twist to that Jan. 25 encounter with Doughty, Maroon's Ducks are one win away from advancing while Doughty's Kings are on the verge of elimination. Maroon has allowed himself to enjoy this ride.

"I have no words," he said. "I never thought I would be in this situation. I've got some power play time. I think Bruce Boudreau's been really fair to me. He's been really good to me. Hats off to him. I'm just trying to take it all in."

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