Maroon closing in on 'crazy' accomplishment with Lightning

Maroon closing in on ‘crazy’ accomplishment with Lightning

DENVER– Pat Maroon can become the first player in nearly 40 years to win the Stanley Cup four seasons in a row, but the Tampa Bay Lightning forward confessed at Stanley Cup Final Media Day on Tuesday that he has had very little time to reflect on that chance.

The 34-year-old won the Cup with the St. Louis Blues, his hometown team, in 2019 before winning it with the Lightning in each of the past two seasons. If Tampa Bay completes the three-peat, he will be the first player to win it in four consecutive seasons since 16 members of the New York Islanders did it from 1980-83.

That opportunity will begin with Game 1 of the Final against the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; ESPN+, ABC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

“One seems crazy to me,” Maroon said. “Just to be a part of one is remarkable. There are guys that go years and play in the NHL 10, 12 years and don’t even get to the Stanley Cup Final let alone get to the conference final. It’s the hardest trophy to win in all sports, and to just win one is remarkable and crazy to me.

“And my first one with my hometown team. It’s crazy about what our Tampa Bay Lightning have been through. There’s no give up in our team. We give it everything we’ve got every single night, and that’s why our team’s had success these last few years.”

Maroon laughed at himself on Tuesday for saying the word, ‘crazy,’ a lot and for not having had much time to contemplate what he’s already accomplished.

But that’s because he’s been too busy succeeding late.

In his 11 NHL seasons, Maroon has 48 points (22 goals, 26 assists) in 138 Stanley Cup Playoff games. However, 91 of those games have come in the past four seasons.

“I just can’t pinpoint words for it,” Maroon said. “I’ve said the word, ‘crazy.’ It’s just crazy to me. When you sit back and when your career is all over and everything’s all settled down, everything hits you at once. It just seems like it’s been so fast with COVID and a short season last year.

“I was home in St. Louis last year for six weeks (in the offseason), and the time before that I was in St. Louis for five weeks, so I’ve never had time to really just go put my feet up for three months at a time and just realize what’s happened.”

Maroon agreed that media day was a good opportunity to at least pinch himself, to take a moment to appreciate the journey. But it’s difficult to just stop in the middle of a ride, especially when there’s still work to be done.

“It happens fast,” he said. “I can’t believe we’re back here again. I can’t believe we just finished another 82-game season and three rounds of playoffs and we’re back to where we were the last two years. … It’s crazy to me what’s happening right now. [have been] part of two great hockey clubs, but to be a part of this group the last three years has been fun and just the way we handle things.”

Handling things is the right description for how Maroon contributes on and off the ice, defenseman Mikhail Sergachev said.

“He’s a glue guy,” Sergachev said. “He brings everybody together. He’s a big leader in the room, on the ice, too. He scores big goals. He scored a big goal (the game-winner in a 2-0 win in Game 4) against Florida this season to clinch the [berth in] the Eastern Conference Final. He’s everything you want in a leader, and he’s hilarious off the ice.

“[He brings] young guys and older guys together. Older guys, you know, have their families and young guys have different things in their lives that they want to do. He kind of brings everybody together, finds great restaurants to go to, to chill in the lounge together so everybody is together. There is no gap between older guys and younger guys. That’s the glue guy.”

lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh said Maroon embodies all that it takes to be a glue guy, whatever those traits may be.

“I can’t really put a definition on what that is or how he does it, but it’s daily interactions and busting guys’ chops at times or getting the group together on the road or saying certain things in the locker room,” McDonagh said . “But he’s got a great sense of where the team is at and what needs to be said and what needs to be done to get guys to really buy in.

“He’ll tell you he’s not the most skilled guy or fleetest of foot, but he’s got a great hockey IQ on the ice and he just wants to make his mark on the series and on the team. It might not always be on the score sheet, but it might be in the locker room helping our group, and [he’s] a huge part of our success over the last couple years.”

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