SUN Hockey Pool

Stick it to 'em

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

Trust Darren McCarty to ensure his celebrations are shared by as many people as possible.

Instead of just taking a quick twirl on the ice after being named first star in the Calgary Flames' 3-1 win over Detroit Wednesday night, the gregarious McCarty sprinted the length of the Saddledome ice.

"It's not often I get a star, so I wanted to go for a skate," he joked yesterday.

It wasn't just to give Harvey the Hound a high-five, either.

McCarty had a special delivery to make -- which has become a tradition for the red-hot Flames this season.

As an extra special thanks to fans for returning after the lost lockout season, Flames chosen among the three stars are handing out signed sticks to the audience.

Until the last few games, it was only fans sitting near the team bench lucky enough to receive the souvenirs. However, when Tony Amonte was named first star in last Saturday's victory over Colorado, he skated across the rink to do the deed.

"You can't just give the lucky folks by the bench everything -- you know what I mean?" said Amonte, who did the same routine last outing. "It's important to give everybody a shot of taking something home. Give some love to the other side."

Seems fair, considering the adoration the Flames have received from their fans this month while piling up an eight-game winning streak they'll look to extend tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks come to town (7 p.m., Sportsnet, Fan 960).

The Flames are handing out wooden sticks the club normally uses for charitable donations.

Flames game stars sign them before taking the curtain call.

McCarty, who has his own tradition of tossing pucks to the crowd at the end of the pre-game skate, is ecstatic about connecting with fans.

"It's easy to go out and be passionate every night because the fans are passionate," he said.

"I always remember what it was like to be

12 years old. I used to go to hockey games and baseball games and all you wanted was to get a puck or a ball. That's what this is all about.

"I get people come up to me and say, 'Hey, you threw a puck to me 10 years ago.' Fans remember that stuff. It's cool."

McCarty is impressed with the Flames fans, not long after being vilified by them during the playoff series between Calgary and Detroit.

"When we were struggling, they didn't get too down on us and now that things are going well, they're not getting too high. That's a key to being successful," he said. "Everybody's excited and happy and buzzing about it but it's not the end all be all. They know it's a long season."


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