Looking at his right arm puts a smile on Darren McCarty's face.
Tattooed on his forearm is a griffin, the legendary half-eagle, half-lion, that symbolizes his 10-year-old son, Griffin.
On the inside of his forearm, he envisions a yet-to-be completed vine, which will feature the birth flowers of his three daughters: Emerson, 8, Avery, 6, and Gracyn, 3.
The Calgary Flames right winger looks up toward his shoulder to see a band and tribal symbols all encircling the initials of his children.
It's a joyful way for McCarty to take his children with him wherever he goes.
The tattoos on his left arm may not be as happy, at least on the surface, but just as important to the veteran NHLer.
Inside his forearm is a drawing of the bass guitar used by his deceased good friend James B. Anders, and an homage to his buddy who was part of McCarty's band Grinder, including the mantra: "It's all about Rock."
"He taught me to appreciate music on a whole new level," McCarty says, his mind thinking back to the good times they had together.
"I was into heavier music, but he got me listening to different things and correlating that into writing music."
The symbols on McCarty's "Death Arm" don't end there.
Near his shoulder is a large cross, with the initials of his late stepfather, Craig, in the middle and "Jigs," the nickname of his grandfather, Bob, with his wedding ring on a chain -- which McCarty wore.
"These three people are three of the biggest influences in my life," McCarty says while rubbing his fingers over the tattoos.
"Everybody deals with death differently and this is how I keep them close to me."
McCarty also has an Aries symbol with the Harley-Davidson logo incorporated into it on his leg.
Curiously, he doesn't have any tattoos that symbolize the three Stanley Cup championships he's won.
"That's not who I am," he says. "I'm proud of them, but that's what the rings are for."
2 photos by Mike Drew, Sun Media
1. Calgary Flames winger Darren McCarty shows off his right arm, which he covered in tattoos to pay tribute to his kids, Griffen, Emerson, Avery and Gracyn