“I know those guys are from across the pond (England), but they like the sport. They've got so many great hits. They played a show at 'The Joe' here this summer, and there's so many hits. They've got so many hits. You know all their songs, so I think it's something that everyone can relate to." -- Darren McCarty
The moment Darren McCarty heard "Pour Some Sugar On Me" blasting on his radio, his life basically changed forever. Since that moment, Def Leppard has been one of his favorite bands.
This week, that band is invading Hockeytown.
In what undoubtedly will be a very special night, Def Leppard will headline NHL Face-Off Rocks 2008 this Thursday at the Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit. There they will play their arena-inspired "C,mon, C'mon," while McCarty and his Detroit Red Wings teammates kick off their season by watching the 2007-08 Stanley Cup championship banner raised to the rafters at Joe Louis Arena. After the ceremony, the Wings will play the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RIS).
While watching the banner go up certainly will bring back memories from last season, Def Leppard's act -- which will be broadcast live at the arena -- likely will force McCarty to reflect on high school memories.
"I remember in Grade 11, we did, like, an air-band assembly," the 36-year-old forward told NHL.com. "It was right when 'Pour Some Sugar On Me' came out, and I remember playing guitar. That was like 20 years ago. I think a staple of a great band is longevity, and they definitely have it."
Given their success over the last two-plus decades, McCarty believes Def Leppard is a perfect fit for every fan that walks through the turnstiles at Joe Louis Arena or the Fox Theatre Thursday night. With a plethora of hits throughout their career, it's almost certain that everyone will know at least one song the band will perform.
"I read somewhere that someone said they're one of the best arena acts," McCarty said. "I know those guys are from across the pond (England), but they like the sport. They've got so many great hits. They played a show at The Joe here this summer, and there's so many hits. They've got so many hits. You know all their songs, so I think it's something that everyone can relate to."
As far as McCarty is concerned, the only negative is that he can't be at The Fox in person to watch one of his favorite bands perform. But McCarty has a pretty good excuse -- he has to work. Combine that with the fact that it also will be a pretty special night at The Joe on Thursday, and it's a no-brainer.
He even gave a plug to teammate Chris Chelios.
"I've seen them before, so that's cool," McCarty said. "I think just to be tied in with it, it's a great opportunity. We were just talking about it in the room. Either you come to the game and watch on the screen, or if you can't get to the game you go to The Fox and watch them and then watch the game. No matter what, you head over to Cheli's Chili afterwards. It's all tied in."
Of course, McCarty's main focus Thursday will be to help his team get off to a winning start. A four-time Stanley Cup champion -- all with the Red Wings -- McCarty is motivated to win a fifth alongside long-time teammates Kris Draper, Nicklas Lidstrom
, Kirk Maltby and Tomas Holmstrom
"It's funny because when you win your first, it's like everything you ever dreamed of," McCarty said. "But then you get that taste in your mouth, and you know how good it is … before you win, you think you know how good it is. The motivation to get back there and get that feeling back, it can be even stronger.
"There're five of us here that have won four Cups. In this day and age, to have that opportunity to win five, I think that's unprecedented. I think that's what our motivation is."
By adding world-class forward Marian Hossa to the mix this summer, Detroit has to be considered among the favorites entering the 2008-09 season. McCarty was pleased by what he saw in training camp and believes the Red Wings are entering this new campaign in the proper frame of mind.
"We're excited and we're chomping at the bit," he said. "I think everybody came back with the attitude of we know that we're the hunted, but that's sort of the way it's been around here for a while. We're excited to play and defend our title. We had a great camp and guys have been working hard. One thing around here is I don't think we have to worry about a hangover."
Given the banner raising and Def Leppard in Detroit on Thursday night, one has to believe the Red Wings will be pumped to play in front of what should be raucous crowds at Joe Louis Arena and the Fox Theatre.
"That's always a big, thrilling part of the season and sort of gets things under way," McCarty said. "Just from years past it's an exciting night. I think to have a huge, successful band kick it off, it's sort of the next step. For it to happen here, we're all excited."