For those who watched last year’s NHL Revealed series, the name Patrick Maroon brings to memory five choice words:
“Buddy, you suck at hockey.”
The chirp from Drew Doughty at the 2014 Stadium Series game at Dodger Stadium visibly stung Patrick Maroon. The menacing 6’3”, 230-pound winger was suddenly not so intimidating, as he sheepishly smiled, and skated away.
Maroon, age 26 had spent the better part of the past six seasons in the AHL, first as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers organization, and later with Anaheim’s squads in Syracuse and Norfolk.
2013-14 was his first full year at the NHL level, but through the first three months of the season he had been a healthy scratch in 17 of 42 games. In that time frame, he had only contributed seven points (3g, 4a).
To this point, Maroon was typically deployed as a fourth line grinder to wear down the opposition. While effective, the Ducks didn’t always need such a physical presence, and Maroon often found himself in the press box in favor of more skilled wingers.
As the calendar turned to 2014, Maroon seemed determined to prove to the world that he, in fact, did not “suck at hockey”, as Doughty would say.Dec 27, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Anaheim Ducks left wing Patrick Maroon (19) against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. The Coyotes defeated the Ducks 2-1 in an overtime shootout. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Maroon nearly doubled his point total on the season in the month of January alone, scoring six points (2g, 4a) alongside new linemates Matthieu Perreault and Teemu Selanne.
The trio seemed perfect for each other.
Perreault was an undersized, silky skating playmaker. Maroon was a bulldog, digging in the corners for loose pucks, and going to the front of the net for deflections and screens. Selanne, while aging, still had some scoring touch still in him.
The line began to find great chemistry together and wrought havoc on opposing third and fourth lines.
Maroon had found his place. He played in every game in the final three months of the season, and he became an important contributor for the Ducks down the stretch.
For example, on April 9th, Maroon scored two goals—including the game winner against the San Jose Sharks, in a game that allowed Anaheim to clinch their second consecutive Pacific Division title.
In the playoffs, Maroon continued to produce. In thirteen appearances, he contributed seven points (2g, 5a) and became the crucial net front presence on the Ducks’ first power play unit, as was evident in this goal against the Los Angeles Kings.
Things were looking up for Pat. Over the off-season, he signed a 3-year, $6 million contract extension with Anaheim, and got a new, permanent jersey number (#19).
However, he lost both of his previous linemates with which he had so much chemistry. Teemu Selanne of course, retired, and Mathieu Perreault opted to sign with the Winnipeg Jets when Ducks GM Bob Murray failed to qualify his RFA contract.
This meant a new beginning of sorts for Maroon. In training camp, he skated alongside newly acquired center Ryan Kesler. Eventually, by the start of the season, Maroon found his place on the top line with Getzlaf and Perry. He was an excellent fit for the top line’s cycle game, and strong forecheck allowed the two superstars to go to the net more often, as shown in this October goal against Detroit.
After collecting an assist in each of his first three games, Maroon suffered a knee injury and was sidelined for over two weeks. Once he returned, something was missing. For example, in twenty-eight contests in November and December, he garnered twelve points (2g, 10a).
This sort of production isn’t necessarily poor—in fact, Maroon is on pace to at least match his point total from last season (29). However, there’s a sense that Maroon can do much better.
He’s been on the bad end of some high profile missed chances, most famously in the Ducks’ New Year’s Eve loss to San Jose, in which Maroon missed two wide open empty net chances.
Maroon himself has seemed visibly frustrated. It’s clear that Maroon has lost some confidence.
It’s Maroon’s recent failure to capitalize on chances that has caused him to bounce around the lineup. After failing to secure the top line spot for himself, Maroon played a while on Kesler’s wing, before being relegated to the same fourth line checking role he spent most of last season in.
With 36 games remaining on the schedule, it’s up to Patrick Maroon to show the world the kind of player he is. Is he a reliable top six option, a big body with soft, sweet hands and a nose for the net that we’ve come to know and love, or is he a mere fourth line grinder who has been playing beyond his true potential?
Only time will tell, but overreacting would be the wrong decision. Continually placing Maroon on the fourth line does not seem to benefit him or his team. All in all, Patrick Maroon is still a positive possession player (53.8% CF%) who does all the little things right. He has seen his shooting percentage come crashing down from a season before—from 11.8% to 4.3%.
Coach Boudreau is making the right decision by keeping Maroon out on the first line with Getzlaf and Perry. As Teemu Selanne famously said, sometimes you need to keep “squeezing the ketchup bottle”, creating scoring chances until the puck finally bounces the way you want it to.
If the Anaheim Ducks want to make a deep run into the playoffs, they need last year’s Patrick Maroon to show up. That version of Maroon is out there somewhere, waiting to emerge. For all of us, we can hope he will find himself sooner than later.