Before putting his name on a Flames contract, Darren McCarty exhibited his heart by putting pen to paper like no NHL player had done before.
Crushed by a club buyout that terminated a 12-year relationship with the Detroit Red Wings, the 220-lb. bruiser displayed his character and class by putting his emotions in a letter promptly sent to the Detroit Free Press.
"I wanted to say thanks," explained the scrappy forward of a letter he was unsure what -- if anything -- the paper would do with.
"I wanted to have the opportunity to let people know how much their support on the ice, with my charitable foundation and around the city meant to me."
So unique was the letter, which opened with, "don't be sad it's over, be happy it happened," the newspaper printed it in its entirety.
Thanking everyone from the team owner and public relations staff to the trainers and fans, McCarty wrote of "letting this boy become a man" and his realization of a dream by playing for his childhood team.
He thanked the community for supporting the McCarty Cancer Foundation and his grunge band Grinder, which is about to release a new album. He ended the heartfelt letter with this message -- "Don't shed a tear 'cause it's over -- crack a smile 'cause it happened."
After its publication, McCarty saw again firsthand how revered he was by Hockeytown faithful who watched him win three Stanley Cups.
"I met with one of the editors there and he gave me a box with more than 900 e-mail responses," said McCarty, 33.
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