Patrick Maroon was just like any other child growing up.
He had big dreams and role models he admired. His dreams, however, were not to be a fireman or astronaut like most boys at that age—but instead, he was born with ice in his veins.
Maroon, who played for the Texarkana Bandits during their final season in the Twin Cities in 2004-05, instantly took a liking to hockey as a child. He always envisioned himself as his hero, Brett Hull, while pretending to play the sport.
But to most, those are just dreams.
Not for Maroon.
The St. Louis Blues recently won the Stanley Cup in seven games over the Boston Bruins and the 31-year-old left wing was a big part of that championship—the first for the franchise. During their postseason run, he helped clinch the series against the Dallas Stars with a game-winning goal in double overtime in Game 7 to assist his hometown Blues in advancing to the finals.
It was always something his heart was set on: Bringing St. Louis a championship.
Maroon took less money to don his hometown colors so he could be closer to his family and hopefully end the franchise's title drought. With the end result being a champion, it was a big deal because he was able to represent the city he grew up in and had the opportunity to do it in front of his family and friends, including his 10-year-old son, Anthony, who helped him celebrate their victory.
"This is truly something I'll never forget," Maroon recently told The Associated Press. "Me and my son will take this to our grave, and we'll have memories for life. We did it. We did it. There's nothing else. (St. Louis) deserves this."
His heroics are well-recorded throughout his career, and in a way, it all really began in Texarkana.
At the age of 16, Maroon was recruited to play for the Bandits, who were in their second year in the North American Hockey League.
He came to Texarkana and stayed with well-known local businessman Fay J. Durrant, a C.E. Palmer Award recipient in 2017. Little did Durrant and Maroon know at the time, but a lifelong friendship was in the making.
"Pat came here when he was 16 years old, and from the start, I thought he was a great kid," Durrant said. "He stayed with us, along with several other players at the time, and was a big kid—physically and mentally. He came to us at 6'2, 240 pounds and had a heart of gold.
"He fit the hockey player mentality well, meaning his emotions were different on and off the ice—kind of like Jekyll and Hyde. On the ice, he was very aggressive and went after it with everything he had while never backing down. When he was off the ice, at home, at school or wherever he was at, he focused on everything important, including schoolwork and studying the game."
After Maroon's only season in Texarkana—one season before the Bandits moved to St. Louis—he left his mark here where he capped the year off with 60 points in 57 games, was named to the NAHL's All-Rookie Team and was coached by now-Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper.
He still holds the record for most postseason points in the NAHL with 23.
Now, the Stanley Cup winner will show his respect to his friend Durrant and to the city of Texarkana by signing free autographs from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday at the Four States Fairgrounds in Texarkana, Ark.
The duo will also play in the APT-WAPT golf tournament together at 1 p.m. at Texarkana Country Club. The pro-am event will feature local golfers Sean Romero and Morgan Smith. On Tuesday, Maroon will compete in the Professional Men and Women Shootout at 5:30 p.m. at Northridge Country Club.
The Stanley Cup champion will set time aside again before Tuesday's shootout at 3 p.m. for a meet-and-greet to sign autographs and take pictures. The public is invited.
For Durrant, it means a lot that Maroon is coming back.
"We've stayed in contact all through the years," he said. "We may not talk every day or every week, but we make sure to make time to talk. I invited him to come in and play in the pro-am tournament on Monday, and he was very excited to come back to Texarkana to visit and meet the locals.
"He's a very humble individual who enjoys giving his time for others. I can't say enough about him. He was a great kid then and is a great guy now."
Just like any child pretending to be his hero, Maroon set his goals high. Those goals would eventually be made on and off the ice and, thankfully, involved Texarkana.