It is hard for fans to admit, whether it is for the Tampa Bay Lightning or others, when a fan favorite doesn’t have it anymore. You can fall in love with a player as a human being, but that doesn’t mean they warrant a starting spot every night in the lineup.
So while the news of Pat Maroon being traded away may be an unfortunate reminder of the reality of professional sports, it was the correct move for Tampa to keep the roster competitive heading into the 2023-24 season.
Tampa Bay Lightning: One-man dynasty
Maroon was brought to Tampa because the squad needed to beef up and toughen up following the 2019 playoff debacle.
For his first three seasons in Tampa, he served his purpose as a veteran presence that knew his role. He held teammates accountable behind the scenes and wasn’t afraid to go down low and do the dirty work so others on the team wouldn’t have to.
He embraced the Florida Man moniker, and there isn’t much more you could ask from Maroon the human.
The problem is that Maroon the player became a liability.
As we chronicled last month when debating if the Tampa Bay Lightning should bring back Corey Perry (before we knew his price tag was $4 million), one of the things we pointed out was that Perry’s stats and possession numbers were significantly better when he was separated from Maroon.
Even if advanced metrics are not your thing, the basic metrics show that Maroon only had 14 points this season and was a -5 on the ice.
And while he did have 172 hits, the third-highest on the team, his foot speed had turned into a liability to the point where his physicality and willingness to fight couldn’t save him.
Even before the trade was announced, DailyFaceoff.Com did not have Maroon projected among the Lightning’s four lines after signing Luke Glendening, Josh Archibald, and Conor Sheary on Saturday.
Combined with the presumptive signing of Tanner Jeannot and some combination of Alex Barré-Boulet, Mikey Eyssimont, and Cole Koepke getting the nod next season and it was clear that Maroon was going to be the odd man out.
Minnesota travels to Amalie Arena on January 18, and there will no doubt be a standing ovation for Maroon during the first tv timeout.
But business is business, and the Lightning did what they had to do to give Tampa the best chance to win that game and many others for the upcoming season.