Pat Maroon knew what he wanted to say. His question was prepared and rehearsed in his head over and over again. He was ready. And then new teammate John Buccigross sent it down to him from the booth for his on-ice interview on Friday night at the NHL’s All-Star Skills and he was right into the fire on national television on ESPN.
“I was shy for a second there. It’s scary,” Maroon said, smiling. “It’s not as easy as it looks, I’ll tell you that.”
For someone who makes their living on the ice, nothing quite hits you like the live, red light on the camera and the producer in your ear telling you: “Go!” in front of a few hundred thousand people. Maroon learned first-hand on Friday night. The three-time Stanley Cup champion and Tampa Bay Lightning forward became one of the rare players in league history to try his hand on the broadcast side of the business while still in-season as a player.
Others have done it before, including P.K. Subban, who moonlighted last year during the Stanley Cup playoffs after his New Jersey Devils didn’t make the cut, and similarly Ray Ferraro dipped his toe into the water in the twilight of his career once his season was finished.
Few have done it in-season. And Maroon has never fit neatly into an NHL box. The St. Louis native grew up a roller hockey star, not an ice rink rat. When he was a 22-year-old leading his AHL team in scoring, the Flyers sent him home mid-season and traded him. He has battled weight his entire career, leading up to being fat-shamed by Bruins broadcaster Jack Edwards earlier this season.
Maroon has persevered through it all as one of hockey’s great competitors, and last July he was two wins away from becoming the first player since the New York Islanders dynasty to etch his name on the Stanley Cup in four consecutive years. His light-hearted approach has made Maroon both a fan favorite and beloved teammate.
ESPN followed Maroon’s infectious personality and invited him to join their team for NHL All-Star Weekend. They got connected with ESPN with the help of his agent, Ben Hankinson, and Octagon Hockey’s head of marketing Rob Grant. It all came together quickly in the days leading up to the event, with a little push from Maroon’s wife, Francesca, who urged him to take the plunge.