Chicago Blackhawks’ Darling After Rehab
That moment changed his life. From there, he made it through rehab and began going down the long and winding road which was his hockey career. He started with the Mississippi RiverKings where he began to truly become comfortable in being himself.
He’d go on to play for countless lower-level teams throughout various hockey leagues. Slowly but surely, he climbed the ladder one rung at a time. In an emergency situation, Darling got a call up to the Montreal Canadiens’ AHL affiliate where he promptly fainted when watching film with the team.
Prior to Scott, no one had ever made it from the SPHL to the NHL.
He changed that.
Some days he would get the opportunity to move up. Other days he’d be sent back down. Darling never quit through any of it. Eventually, he caught a break when Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne was forced to miss four months promoting every goaltender in the organization one position upward.
He went to their AHL team where he posted good numbers. Nashville noticed and the next season they offered him an AHL contract.
However, Scott received another contract offer.
The offer? A two-way deal from his childhood team, the Chicago Blackhawks.
"“When I was in fourth grade, my teacher asked the class to write down what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wrote, “I want to play goalie for the Chicago Blackhawks.” My grandparents still have the sheet of paper at their house.”"
On October 26th, that dream came true.
"“I remember I was standing in the crease during the national anthem, and I was looking up into the rafters at all the banners, and I had this crazy flashback to every team I ever played for — to standing in the crease and looking up into the rafters of every tiny barn that I played in along the way.” Darling wrote in his article to the Players Tribune. “Except this time, I was doing it at the United Center, where I had come as a kid with my dad.”"
Darling played in another 13 games with Chicago that season. He doesn’t recall anything from the first one, however through the remainder of the year the memories came in bunches.
Fast forward to that playoff game against his former team, the Nashville Predators. Chicago is down 3 after one period. Darling recalls everything that happened after Coach Joel Quenneville said
"“I went straight into the bathroom and threw up right in the toilet. And then I came back out and I looked around the room at Toews and Kaner and Seabs and Duncs and I was ready to roll. Just seeing the looks on those guys’ faces, down 3–0, said it all. There was no fear . . . Their mentality when they got down was, How long is it going to take for us to come back?”"
Boy oh boy do I miss those years.
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“I remember skating out on the ice, Darling wrote. “The rest is a blur.”
The core, with help from Darling’s stellar performance, fought back and eventually tied the game.
The game took overtime to decide.
And, as most classic Chicago Blackhawks playoff games did, it went to double OT. Eventually, Keith scored the game winner giving the Blackhawks home ice advantage.
“I’ll tell my kids about it someday.”
As we all know, that team went on to win the Stanley Cup that year. Darling now plays with the Carolina Hurricanes as he’s earned the job he was always destined to have: a starting goaltender in the National Hockey League.
That said, he will always remember his time in Chicago.
"“In 40 years, I’ll tell my kids about Game 1 against Nashville. I’ll tell them what it felt like to lift the Cup. But more importantly, I’ll tell them about Johnny and Brent and Duncan and Crow and Kaner and Shaw and on and on. I’ll tell them about all the time we spent in hotels, and on buses and airplanes, just talking about hockey, and about life — and if it was Johnny, probably about life on Mars. It all means more to me than anyone will ever understand. I love you, guys. I love you, Chicago.”"
Well Darls, Chicago loves you too.
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If you haven’t read his full story yet, I encourage you in doing so. Furthermore, I ask that we all not only count our blessings, but remember where we came from and how far we all still have to go. Scott’s story is one with a lot of lessons to be learned. He is a true warrior through and through.
Additionally, today marks just 33 days until Blackhawks hockey. Stay tuned for who will be featured on day 32!