June 13, 2017
During his three seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, goaltender Scott Darling quickly became one of the most popular players on the team. It was not just because he was a local kid who hit the big time, but also because of his story of perseverance and redemption which is straight out of a Hollywood backlot.
Darling has penned a great piece for The Players' Tribune, which begins with signing with the Blackhawks exactly three years to the day after he went to rehab for alcohol addiction.
“The thing about alcoholism is that you never think you have a problem. That’s how it gets you. Because it always starts small. For me, it started as a way to cope with social anxiety. Ever since I was a kid, I kind of lived inside my own brain. I was an introvert, and I was so worried about what everyone thought about me at all times. Like if I walked into a room of 100 people, I wanted to make sure all 100 people thought I was cool. I was obsessed with being the best version of myself at all times.”
Darling goes into great detail about his struggles with alcohol and social anxiety and this story of quickly going from training camp with the Arizona Coyotes to the Louisiana IceGators of the Southern Professional Hockey League and his numerous stops in the ECHL and AHL.
He fondly recalls his first career NHL start in October of 2014, fulfilling his childhood dream.
“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. Except this time, I was doing it at the United Center, where I had come as a kid with my dad.”
He finishes off his great story with a heartfelt thank you to the Blackhawks and all their fans as only he can say it.
“It was amazing to represent my city and play for my favorite team. Top to bottom that organization is filled with amazing people. They all treated me like I belonged. The front office was great to me, my coaches were amazing to me and treated me like an NHL goalie. That may sound funny coming from me, but it took me a while to stop thinking that everyone looked at me like a random SPHL guy. I made so many great friends on the team, the p.r. team, the training staff, the equipment guys … I could go on for days.
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.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
No, thank you Scott!