|Darren McCarty's distain for the Avalanche is well-documented. His comeback trail brought him to Hockeytown on Monday, where he signed a one-year contract. |
– Darren McCarty drove from Grand Rapids in the early morning hours Monday to accept the Red Wings’ one-year contract offer to rejoin a franchise that he once played for in 11 NHL seasons.
After signing the contract, McCarty visited with old
“I think he has his focus and passion back for hockey, he’s got his priorities of sobriety in order, his family and hockey. Again, we’re going to take a flyer on him. There’s no guarantee that he’s going to come in and be the answer. But let’s see.” - Wings general manager Ken Holland
friends and ran into captain Nicklas Lidstrom
in the Red Wings’ locker room at Joe Louis Arena.
“It’s nice to come back and see some familiar faces,” McCarty told DetroitRedWings.com. “It’s just the beginning and I plan, when get up, to help this team win.”
McCarty will return to Grand Rapids and continue a two-week conditioning assignment. From there he’ll likely rejoin the Red Wings with the hopes of winning a roster spot, Wings general manager Ken Holland said.
“At some point in time he will be with the Red Wings,” Holland said. “Now it’s up to the coaching staff to determine if he can help us. And it’s up to Darren McCarty.
“He has six weeks before the playoffs start to win Mike Babcock and his coaches over. The worse case scenario is that he doesn’t get in there regularly, but he continues to improve. He’s good insurance. He’s been in the playoffs before. He knows what the playoffs are all about. He has a physical presence. Our hope is that he can do more than that.”
McCarty, 35, could be in a Red Wings' uniform as early as mid-March when Detroit hosts Chicago, Dallas and Nashville in a five-day stretch.
McCarty has been working the last several months to get back to the NHL. He confided in his friends, most notably Chris Osgood and Kris Draper, who helped get McCarty back into a workout routine and signed with the Flint Generals in the International Hockey League.
After an 11 game stint with the Generals, the Wings signed McCarty to a pro tryout contract on
|McCarty skated with the Flint Generals last month, tallying three goals and three assist, and 30 penalty minutes in 11 games. |
Feb. 1. In nine games with the Griffins, he has four goals and three assists. The Griffins played in Quad City on Sunday, and returned to Grand Rapids about 3 a.m. Monday. From there, McCarty traveled to Detroit to sign the deal.
He admits that in the past he never thought this day would ever come. But more recently he’s allowed himself to believe that it could.
“I always hoped,” McCarty said. “One of the biggest disappointments was having to leave. But it’s funny how life works itself out and I can really relate to talking to Ozzie about leaving and coming back.
“I had to change some things in my life. I had to change, and I think that where I’m at now is what has made me successful here and has made me an integral part in winning some championships. That’s sort of the character and things that I’m prepared to bring in the dressing room and on the ice. I can’t express my excitement.”
McCarty was a fixture for the Wings from 1993 until the lockout season in 2004. The next year he signed with Calgary, where he remained for two seasons, compiling seven goals and 13 assists in 99 games with the Flames. McCarty was a member of three Stanley Cup winning teams, and forged a memorable trio known as the Grind Line with Kirk Maltby and Draper during his first stint in Hockeytown.
“After the work-stoppage, I thought he lost his focus and his passion for the game,” Holland said. “I think that over the last 6-10 months he has got his life in order and we’re going to give him an opportunity to show us what he can do.”
According to the CBA, the Red Wings had until Tuesday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline to reach a deal with McCarty. But Holland said that the team had come to the conclusion over the weekend to sign the veteran forward.
“Ultimately, I would say to you we made this move based on his history with us,” Holland said. “I think he has his focus and passion back for hockey, he’s got his priorities of sobriety in order, his family and hockey. Again, we’re going to take a flyer on him. There’s no guarantee that he’s going to come in and be the answer. But let’s see.”