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Maroon says the Big Rig does not intend to slow down

04/02/2017, 12:00pm CDT
By ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI - Edmonton Journal

This might seem like a dream year for Patrick Maroon — destroying his personal bests for goals in a season and overall impact on a playoff-bound hockey team — but he promises it isn’t.

Dream year, in his estimation, means it has something to do with stars being aligned, that it is unsustainable and likely to never happen again.

The way he sees it, scoring 25 goals a year needs to be the new normal.

“I don’t want to be a one-and-done 20-goal scorer,” said the 28-year-old winger. “I want to continue being a good power forward in this league, keep working hard in the off-season and doing the little things to help this team win.

“The ride has been fun, but I want to continue the success.”

 

To go from a personal best of 12 goals to having a shot at 30 this year is a stunning improvement that nobody saw coming. But head coach Todd McLellan did tell Maroon that if he applied himself better in the summer there would be a bigger role waiting for him here in the fall.

Seems both of them delivered on their promises.

“Any time you have a career year and you double your goal total it doesn’t matter what type of player you are, it’s dramatic,” McLellan said. “And I’m not talking about going from two to four. He’s in the high 20s now, he’s having a tremendous season.

“He’s always had the size, but his hands and his sense, he fits that line well. And his fearlessness to go to the paint and score in and around that area is what’s really getting it done for him.”

Maroon does take some self satisfaction in what he’s been able to accomplish since re-dedicating himself as a player.

“I never give myself credit,” he said. “But I’ve been given an opportunity and I’ve been riding with it. It’s been good.

“Yes, Connor McDavid passes me the puck and I put it in the net, but there’s a lot more to it.”

Maroon isn’t the only Oiler who’s been given a chance on the first line left wing, he’s just the best fit, emerging as one of the top power forwards in the game.

“You don’t see a lot of guys who are capable of bringing what he brings, and especially as consistently as he does,” said defenceman Darnell Nurse. “Every single night he finds a way to make an impact. He’s been a huge reason we’re on the position we’re in now.

“Being in the room with him you see that he brings the right attitude every night and works as hard as he can. When you have that type of mixture good things can happen.”

Maroon hasn’t always put in this type of effort and commitment – if he had he’d still be in Anaheim – but like he says, this is the new normal.

“I want to do everything I can to keep progressing as a player and a teammate, showing these guys that I’m coming to camp in shape every year, showing these guys that I want it,” he said, adding last summer really opened his eyes to what kind of impact he can have if he puts in the work.

He signed up with a strength coach and a dietician, hit the workouts hard during the off-season and reported to camp lighter and clearly better than he had in a long time.

“If I didn’t do that in the summer, this wouldn’t be here right now,” he said. “I could be in the minors, Peter (Chiarelli) could be upset with me, Todd could be upset with me.

“I have to realize that not only did I work hard in the summer, but I matured as a person and as a player and realized what I need to do off the ice. I’m going to continue that. I can’t be a one and done.

“I always find ways when my back is against the wall to come up and do good things. I have to have think my back is against the wall all the time.”

Because skating on a line with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl isn’t something any player should take for granted. Heck, just being in the NHL isn’t something any player should take for granted.

“With a snap of a fingers you can have one good year and think your future is there, but if you don’t come back in shape you’re back to square one.”

Starting all over again, maybe even somewhere else, isn’t something Maroon even wants to think about.

“I want to stay here,” he said. “There is something special in this locker room. I think this team can do some really good things in the future, and this year moving forward, too.”

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rtychkowski@postmedia.com

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