December 08, 2009
If there's one thing that the general public loves, it's life-rehabilitating stories. The rise and fall and rise again of public figures are fascinating and gives others inspiration to deal with their own personal issues.
Darren McCarty(notes) is another one in the long line of athletes who were at the top, fell back and then rose again. In his first 11 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, McCarty was on three Stanley Cup-winning teams, was a well-valued grinder that could contribute 10-15 goals a season and be defensively responsible.
When the lockout ended in 2005 and teams had to begin working under a salary cap, many rosters needed to be trim to comply with the new collective bargaining agreement. McCarty was one of those roster casualties on the Red Wings and he would move on to the Calgary Flames for two seasons. After the 2006-07 season with the Flames, it seemed as if McCarty's career was coming to an end. He went pointless in his final season in Calgary and there was little interest in his services the following off-season.
A comeback in the IHL that December led to a tryout with Detroit's AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids. Three weeks after scoring a hat trick in his debut with the Griffins, McCarty returned to the Red Wings after signing a one-year deal. The comeback was complete when McCarty added a fourth Cup ring that June, joining Kris Draper(notes), Nicklas Lidstrom(notes), Tomas Holmstrom(notes), and Kirk Maltby(notes) as the only Red Wings to be on all four championship teams since 1997.
While McCarty found successes on the ice, away from the rink he battled demons. Alcoholism, bankruptcy and drugs could not be hip checked out of his way like an opposing player. Still battling those obstacles, McCarty announced his retirement from hockey yesterday and is focusing on his new role as an analyst for VERSUS.
"I know Avs fans here will hate to read this, but McCarty was/is a tremendous person who has overcome a lot in his life and probably will continue to face tough personal challenges in his new life. He’s had some very public personal setbacks, and they’re always waiting to re-appear in a person’s life if given the chance.
And let’s face facts here: if McCarty had been an Av, you all would have loved him. He stuck up for his teammates, played hard and was good to the fans."
The ability to continually overcome the challenges put in front of him will be McCarty's legacy. Oh, and this goal in 1997 Stanley Cup Finals that put the Philadelphia Flyers on ice: