SUN Hockey Pool

McCarty on the road again

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

About to head out on his first road trip since before the Christmas break, Darren McCarty had high hopes.

"I'm going to be their good luck charm on the road," he said after an early morning practice at the Corral yesterday before the Calgary Flames flew to Chicago for today's matinee against the Blackhawks.

The 34-year-old winger won't suit up for any of the four games but began skating with the team this week and will continue to work on getting back into game shape with his mates.

Glad to leave strength and conditioning coach Rich Hesketh behind, McCarty is also happy to have the opportunity to watch the away games in person.

"I love Rich Hesketh but enough is enough," said McCarty, who has primarily been a fan during the team's last 17 road games.

"I'd get together with some friends or whoever's left around (because of injury) and we'd watch the game. It's just like being a fan so you're out cheering, screaming when we score."

There's an unwritten rule about avoiding outbursts in the press box so McCarty will have to keep his emotions in check while in Chicago, Minnesota and Vancouver this week. But anything's better than having to watch on TV, especially the way things have gone for his teammates who went 4-7-6 away from the 'Dome in his absence.

"Sometimes you're sitting at home. Sometimes you turn the TV off," said McCarty with a laugh. "I've done that before."

The two-time Stanley Cup winner has had more depressing moments this season than just watching his Flames struggle on the road. In the 31 games he played before the sports hernia became too much to deal with, McCarty was unable to score a goal and often saw the ice for fewer than three minutes. There were also the difficult weeks before it was decided surgery was necessary.

"For the first couple of months it was sort of like limbo, deciding what we were going to do," McCarty said. "Once we decided to have the surgery and to move forward, I guess mentally it got easier because it was sort of like the ball was in motion."

McCarty's hoping to be a factor in the playoffs and is keeping his fingers crossed he can suit up for one of the final four games of the regular season but says he hasn't considered his future or entertained thoughts of retirement yet.

"I believe that everything sort of falls into place when it should. No matter what it means," McCarty said.

"This year's been a year of attrition. That can all change with a great playoff run. That's the beauty of sports. Sometimes the 'what have you done for me lately' mantra holds good when you suck early."

Still, with buddy Brett Hull appearing on NBC's game of the week and fellow tell-it-like-it-is NHLer Jeremy Roenick signing up with TSN for this year's playoffs, you'd have to think broadcasting may be in McCarty's future when he hang up his skates for good.

"That fits me a lot better," said McCarty with a grin. "I don't think I could be a guy that does it all the time, I just don't have that attention span. But to do the game of the week, flying to New York or wherever it is for the weekend, I could probably handle that."

Coaching is another possibility.

McCarty has already had experience while popping in and out of the dressing room at home games during this recent injury hiatus.

"I don't know. I would never say never about anything but my attitude is I spent most of my life at the rink," said McCarty.

"I still like to be in and around it but you've got to put way more time in as a coach than you do as a player. I've got ADHD so I don't think that works."


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