Darren McCarty: Playoff Goal Latest Chapter in Long Journey

Michael KinkellaContributor IApril 13, 2008

Since being drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1992, Darren McCarty has had anything but a normal playing career. 

After sitting out the entire 2007-08 season, McCarty has been making a huge effort to come back to the NHL, and the Detroit Red Wings have given him that opportunity.

After being drafted by the Red Wings, McCarty spent 11 seasons in Detroit, where he became one of the fan favorites for his rough style of play.  He was a big part of the "Grind Line" which featured teammates Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper.  The "Grind Line" was known for their toughness, as one of the three members was often fighting. 

McCarty made a name across the NHL with his brawl in 1997 with Claude Lemieux, which sparked the rivalry between the Red Wings and Avalanche. During the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 1997, McCarty scored the winning goal over the Philadelphia Flyers, which won the Stanley cup for Detroit. 

During the lockout in 2004-05, Detroit decided to part ways with McCarty. He would sign with the Calgary Flames and it had appeared that McCarty lost a step. He struggled and in result, wasn't getting as much playing time.

Since McCarty has been in the league, it has been well known that his priorities in life weren't in order. 

He has been to alcohol and drug rehab twice, once for alcohol and one other time for an unknown substance. In 2006, McCarty filed for bankruptcy, due to a gambling problem.  After spending the ’06-07 season out of work, his priorities seemed to get back in order. 

On Dec. 31, 2007, McCarty signed with the Flint Generals of the International Hockey League. The Generals are owned by his good friend, Kris Draper, who encouraged McCarty to make a comeback to pro hockey. He did not spend much time in Flint, however. On Feb. 4, he signed with the Detroit Red Wings’ minor league hockey team, the Grand Rapids Griffins.

During his time in Grand Rapids, McCarty was an immediate fan favorite, and seemed to be playing harder than ever.  His priorities were in order and he was determined to come back to the NHL. On Feb. 25, the Red Wings signed him to a one-year contract, and less than two weeks later, his wish had come true.

After getting called up by the Red Wings on March 7, McCarty has been playing an important role for the team. 

He has given them depth, which has been making it much easier for coach, Mike Babcock, to make line changes. 

He made his comeback’s biggest contribution on Saturday, scoring a playoff goal, helping the Wings get a 4-2 win over Nashville, and a 2-0 series lead.