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GENE'S BLOG: Patrick's Hat trick

Gene Principe writes about Oilers big man Patrick Maroon

by Gene Principe @GenePrincipe /

He is big and tough and yet soft and rough. A teddy bear masquerading as a brute on the outside but a caring and kind-hearted individual on the inside. In the last few weeks, we have seen the two sides of Patrick Maroon. It's what makes him a player the Oilers are enamoured with and a person fans are falling for in his first full season with Edmonton. The Oilers winger is showing us his skills on the ice and in his life.

Let's start with what he does at the rink and what he did at TD Garden on Thursday night. It might have been the best individual performance of the season. That is saying something considering the kind of year Connor McDavid is having at one end of the ice and the workhorse numbers of Cam Talbot at the other end. It's hard to outdo a hat trick but it's not easy to climb a mountain or to fight one. Mount Chara wanted to go and Maroon obliged. As he said on Sportsnet after one period of play it's not fun fighting a 6-foot-9, 250-pound behemoth but when Chara asked to fight Maroon listened. He already had a goal. He didn't need the fight but out of respect for Chara, he took it. The Bruins captain asked and the Oilers winger obliged. Crazy, maybe, but incredibly respectful.

Fighting and surviving against the biggest player in the League would have been considered a good night for Maroon. Instead, he made it into a great night and a memorable one. Goals in periods one, two and three gave the winger his first NHL hat trick. I mean, Ryan Smyth would have been extremely proud of Patrick's hat trick. One goal scored closer to the net than the other. Add it up and maybe 10 feet in total were used for him to get goals 12, 13 and 14 on the season. It ties him with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl for the team lead. Men that big don't normally have hands that soft but every goal showed more and more of Maroon's touch around the net. The only thing softer than his hands might be his heart.

It was clearly on display when Edmonton played in St. Louis. It's Patrick's hometown and there to watch him were mom and dad, his brother, his girlfriend and his son Anthony. Anthony lives in St. Louis while Patrick resides in Edmonton during the winter. His son was a rock solid second intermission interview. I especially loved his answer on what he would say to dad at the end of the game: "I love you and I'll miss you." 

That was just a precursor to full-blown heart string pulling after Maroon scored in the third and spoke after the game. After a night of watching Patrick on the ice and his family in the stands closing off the evening with an interview with No. 19 was the way to go. No one, not even Patrick, could have predicted his emotional reaction to seeing his son's reaction to his goal. It was sad and downright awesome all wrapped up into one. Anthony was so excited and Patrick was thrilled to see that. Unfortunately, at the same time, the Oiler realized he would be saying goodbye to his boy after the game. Suddenly the dad in Maroon took over and there was no stopping the flood of feelings.

In nearly 30 years of TV, that has never happened to me and the response to Maroon was incredible. To see the person behind the player was a real eye-opener for the public. A night Maroon won't forget in St. Louis and another one to remember in Boston. A display of humanity and hockey that has endeared Patrick Maroon to the Oilers and their fans.

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