By MORRIS DALLA COSTA
LONDON FREE PRESS
Patrick Maroon has confirmed what everyone has been speculating about for months: He's coming to London to play this season with the Knights.
Maroon was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in the sixth round (161st overall) in last month's National Hockey League draft. He was London's second pick in the 11th round of the 2004 Ontario Hockey League draft, but opted to play in the United States. He was supposed to play at Ferris State this year, but will come to London instead.
"I'm going to London because that's what's best for my career," Maroon said. "I'm not sure when I'm coming but I'm looking forward to it. I can hardly wait."
Last season, Maroon scored 40 goals and 95 points with 152 penalty minutes and was named MVP of the North American Hockey League. He topped playoff scoring with 10 goals and 23 points in 12 games and led the St. Louis Bandits to the title.
Maroon is a late bloomer who has had issues with his skating and conditioning. But a new dedication to training has seen him drop more than 30 pounds.
"I'm still working on it," he said. "I want to lose a little more. But I feel . . . good. It's made a big difference."
Maroon said the decision on whether to go to Ferris State or come to London was difficult, even though he still needed additional credits before he could get into the university.
"In the end, I just felt that it would be better for me to play in the OHL because I'd heard so much about it and how they get players ready," he said. "Philadelphia (Flyers) gave me some advice, but it was pretty much my own decision."
Maroon is 19 and can play two years in the league. At six-foot-four and 228 pounds, he's a big winger who has the ability to play the off wing.
"We're happy to have him," said Mark Hunter, Knights general manager who's team is looking to get a little bigger than last year. "But it isn't just size. He has good hands, good skills. He can pass the puck. He's a go-to guy."
Hunter said Maroon is a first- or second-line centre.
"He's a difference maker. He can beat guys one-on-one," he said. "There's some things he needs to clean up. He needs to get himself in better shape and then his skating will get better but he's working on it."
Maroon knows exactly what he needs to work on. "Skating," he said. "I skate two times a week right now and I work out every day."
Maroon just got back from the Flyers prospects camp held last week.
JULY 17 - Confirmed by the Knights