The Detroit Red Wings were a team best known for their high skill level and beautiful theory of how hockey should be played. With the likes of Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov and Igor Larionov, they were a beautiful team to watch.
In stark contrast to many of his teammates, Darren McCarty provided the necessary grit and toughness needed come playoffs. He was big, mean, tough and fearless. He fit in perfectly with Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby on the famous Grind Line, energizing the team with his physical intensity, fierce forechecking and determined backchecking. He even added a few goals, none more pretty than this:
He was an awkward skater and not a great fighter, but he was such a valuable contributor to four Stanley Cup championships in Detroit. His teammates never wavered in their belief that McCarty would be there for them if trouble was ever brewing. They also knew that he could be counted on to rattle their own cage if the team ever needed to be shaken from a sluggish game.
In 758 games, he recorded 127 goals, 288 points and 1,477 penalty minutes. Over 174 playoff contests, McCarty racked up 23 goals and 49 points.
McCarty was an admirable character, but he faced his own troubles away from the rink. He loved live and lived it with much of the reckless abandon that he was famous for on the ice. He was renowned for his love heavy metal music and professional wrestling. Far more concerning was his increasing dependence of alcohol and growing financial difficulty. He eventually sought help for his alcoholism and filed for bankruptcy.
Much of his off ice struggles coincided with his father's death from cancer. He set up the McCarty Cancer Foundation which he created to assist in the battle against multiple myeloma, a terminal cancer that took his father's life in 1999.