A person could travel North America, visiting every recently-signed NHL free agent, and be hard-pressed to find a guy as happy with his new club as new Blue Patrick Maroon.
This is for several reasons with a biggie being Maroon was born and raised here and both his immediate and extended family still reside throughout the area. As a matter of fact, he was enjoying some local cuisine when he decided he’d like to go to work in his hometown.
“I was in Charlie Gitto’s at 10:00 the night before; my fiancé’s family restaurant there,” Maroon said. “I called my agent and told him I’m going to sign with the St. Louis Blues. It sounded like when we called Army he was sleeping because it was late at night.”
“It was exciting and it’s one of those feelings where I can’t wait to get on the ice. It’s going to be an exciting year.”
Any player joining a new team is bound to use some form of ‘exciting’ while talking to the new city’s media, but one could tell during Wednesday’s brief news conference that Maroon meant it every time the word left his mouth.
He’ll suit up this fall for the team he grew up watching and he also likes the hockey situation he’s walking into, mentioning Doug Armstrong’s work this summer as a big help with his decision.
“I dreamed of putting that jersey on and that decision was kind of easy knowing what the roster looked like and the chance for me to come in and I think this is a good team that’s going to have stride,” he said.
“When I saw all those moves happen I was still trying to make my decision; that kind of made my decision much easier,” he added. “Down the middle, I think maybe they’re one of the top centermens in the league in the league now. They have a really good centermen on all four lines if you think about it. The decision was hard, but also easy seeing that on paper.”
Maroon split last season between Edmonton and New Jersey, but recalled a night last November when he visited then-Scottrade Center with the Oilers and left both demoralized and impressed with his new club after an 8-3 loss…This of course came during the Note’s historic start to their season and before the late-season fall.
“We were all looking around and were like, ‘Wow. This team has a chance to win the Stanley Cup.’ They were firing on all cylinders and we obviously had no idea what was going on. Obviously, Edmonton had a struggle last year, but playing against [the Blues] last year, I thought they were a heck of a team.
“Unfortunately they didn’t make the playoffs, but I feel like they found those missing pieces that they need and I think good things are going to happen for this team this year.”
Knowing all the things the Blues had going their way in luring Maroon to town, it shouldn’t have taken much lobbying from players to help seal the deal, but current Blues still did their best. It also helped Maroon has made the Note practice facility at St. Louis Mills Mall his summer hockey home.
“They let me use their locker room. I hang my gear out there; it’s like a second home for me,” he said. “I always told myself, ‘How easy is this?’ Driving into the Mills and practicing then going home and leaving my gear there. It just made sense.
“Hanging out with those guys during the summer, playing golf with them; it made my decision easier. Having those guys reach out to me: Petro, Steener, Fabbri…and Thorburn,” he added. “It made my decision a lot easier with those guys reaching out and making me feel at home.”
As if he needed any more reason to sign with the Blues, you can peace of mind to the list with him knowing he’ll be home to see nine-year-old son, Anthony.
“I’ve been away from him for nine years…That takes a toll on you sometimes as a dad and it’s hard being away from your son like that. I think one of the reasons why, too, is being close to him. Having a full year under my belt with my son. I really haven’t had that. It’s only been three months at a time.”
Time will tell how the one-year, $1.75 million deal looks in hindsight, but add up all the plusses and it looks like a pretty sweet deal for the hometown boy. Whether this leads to sweetness on the ice will become apparent, but there isn’t much here to breed concern.
You can find see more of Maroon’s comments below. Stay tuned to 101 ESPN and 101Sports.com for plenty of puck-talk as the season approaches.
Maroon on Vladimir Tarasenko’s skill-set:
“He’s a star player. He’s obviously an elite player in this league and obviously people have to key on him a lot. The way he releases the puck; the way he protects pucks; the way he can be explosive up the middle when he catches a puck. The little things that he does are very special.
“You hate to play against a guy like that that is strong on the puck with good hands and a good release. You can’t really teach that and he has the whole package. I’m happy on his team now and it’s going to be a lot more fun playing with him.”
On other teams’ interest in him and his new teammates reaching out:
“There were a couple teams interested and it came down to if I was going to take a one-year deal, what team is going to help me prolong my career and what team is the best decision and I felt like the St. Louis Blues had my best interest.
“Those guys reaching out made me feel wanted. Armstrong was really pushing hard for me. Obviously, I left some things on the table, but I think it’s a life-changing thing for me and I think this is the team that’s going to get my game where it needs to be and put me in the right direction moving forward for hopefully the next five years I can play.”
On telling his son he’d be playing at home this season:
“We both starting kind of tearing up a little bit because, I mean, it’s a special thing. “It’s going to be a really cool year for him and watching his dad play for the St. Louis Blues and the warmups we can do. Seeing him in warmups before every game; it’s going to really be a really cool year, a fun year. It’s going to be very special and we’re going to remember this time.”
On where he sees himself playing:
“I can fit all four lines. Wherever you want to put me I can play, and I can be creative. It’s not really all about skill players, you know? You can put me down and I can grind it down low and get some energy for the guys, too.”