Pat Maroon knows his pregame routine doesn’t make for compelling television but it’s hard to argue with the results.
“I feel bad,” the Tampa Bay Lightning forward said. “I don’t do much on game days. You’re looking at it. I literally sit on the couch. If there’s golf on, I hang out and watch golf. If there’s something on, I kind of put the feet up, relax and go up and take a nap. So not too exciting game day ritual like I’m sure you guys are used to filming.”
Hours later, Maroon would win his third consecutive Stanley Cup championship and second with the Lightning. So you’ll excuse him if his routine is a little bland.
The seventh and final episode of the sixth season of “Quest for the Stanley Cup,” an all-access series, begins prior to Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Lightning and Montreal Canadiens. The episode premieres Friday at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN+ in the United States and YouTube.com/NHL in Canada.
From the fans outside Amalie Arena to the players and coaches in the locker room, the pregame scene closer to puck drop was filled with passion and determination. No one associated with the Lightning wanted the Stanley Cup to leave town.
While Canadiens coach Dominque Ducharme advised his players against trying to be superheroes trailing the best-of-7 series 3-1, Lightning coach Jon Cooper delivered a sharp sermon that he reiterated during second intermission about closing out the game, and series, with force.
“In the end, it’s our will. It’s our will and our attitude to take them out,” Cooper said. “That’ll be everything. They will at some point tonight — because of you and your will — they will decide to lose. It’ll happen at some point. If you play the same way with the same grit and the same passion you’ve done for two years, they will choose to bow out. Make them do it. Let’s go.”
When the game ends, the contrast of experiences between the winning and losing teams becomes stark, beginning in the immediate aftermath, then in the postgame press conferences. But no part depicted it more vividly than Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher, bruised and dejected, walking through the halls of Amalie Arena at the end of the night past a row of big screen TVs showing the Lightning’s on-ice celebration.
“Injuries, scheduling, COVID, even through the playoffs, being down, being up, we grew as a team a lot,” Ducharme said. “We want to make it back here with a different result.”
For the Lightning, the party started when the final buzzer sounded and, unlike last season, they got to celebrate in front of their home crowd and loved ones.
In the following days, the players were able to take the Stanley Cup around their neighborhoods for some impromptu community celebrations. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh took it to a neighbor’s house with Maroon, where they shared a heartfelt moment. Then a barista at his favorite coffee shop got to take a drink from the Cup.
In the end, in a break from the whirlwind, Cooper sat the Cup on a table by his backyard pool, sat down, lit a cigar, took a couple puffs, and started thinking about what comes next.
“Last year was such a special experience because it was our first championship, but the one thing we were robbed of was doing it in front of our family, our friends and our fans,” Cooper said. “When you win a championship, you may have a tendency to say, ‘We won,’ and take a breath. This team was so hungry to win another one, so passionate. They weren’t going to be denied. It was just so fun to be a part of.
“I guess it’s time to go for three.”