Wings should hope for a short lived McCarty comeback

Tim M.Contributor IMarch 26, 2008

A short lived McCarty come back warms a Wings fan’s heart.

This is a great story; the goal scoring, fist-wielding hero once again puts on the jersey that made him a Detroit fan favorite team. Darren McCarty will return to the Red Wings for Friday night’s game against division foe St. Louis. The game should be a gem. St Louis has taken liberties at the Wings of late, and I expect McCarty to quickly drops the gloves and prove his worth to his teammates, and I would not be surprised if Aaron Downey follows suit.

A great game, and a great story, but one that a Red Wings fans should hope ends on April 6th when their top 12 forwards, including Holmstom and Flippula, are deemed healthy enough for the post-season.  The lineup that has driven this team to the President’s Trophy and gives them the best shot at post-season success.

The reality is that McCarty has only five games to prove to Mike Babcock, a coach who preaches hard work, speed, and defense, that he is more deserving than players that have gutted it out all season.  As much as the blue collar Detroit fan loves McCarty, they are remembering a McCarty from 1997.  Darren however is 10 years older. This is not Steve Yzerman’s return from his knee surgery, nor Fedorov’s return after holding out most of the season, these type of players could play less than game conditioned based on their skill alone.

The Wings play a very fast tempo, puck possession, and defensively responsible game, and in the post season, fighting is very rare. Darren has not been an effective NHL player in over three years, and that was in a much slower era of hockey.  Up to this Friday he has been completely out of hockey, and is coming off of broken ribs, not a the best injury to have for a grinder.  Taking all that into account, and the fact that the Red Wings are playing only one more team this season with something to play for would be floored if he started a player who would just be getting acclimated into the teams system let alone getting into regular season form by the time the playoffs started.

His return Friday will juice Joe Louis Arena.  I am willing to bet the game will sell more tickets and have fans actually in attendance than most of the games this month.  Unfortunately for Darren the Red Wings are not St. Louis, they are not the Islanders, they are the Red Wings, a team with a real shot at playing well into April, and come playoff time, he won’t have a spot because of the name on his back or because some extra butts are in the seats.  At the same time, fortunately for McCarty, the Detroit Red Wings are the Detroit Red Wings, and Kenny Holland and Illitch are class individuals that gave him a chance to return to a team in the midst of a Cup run. With the current list of injuries, unfortunately he might see time. At the very least, he will have a legitimate edge to take Aaron Downey’s spot next season, I hope.