McCarty nearing Motown encore

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:05 AM ET

Darren McCarty may be just days away from donning the Winged Wheel once agan.

Although a bigger comeback story is his off-ice recovery from a life gone awry, the former Flames winger apparently inevitable NHL contract with the Detroit Red Wings is a pretty good yarn, too.

"He's done some unbelievable things for the Detroit Red Wings. The fans and certainly the city and state are behind him," said former linemate Kris Draper, who has played a big role in helping his old friend get back into shape by offering him the use of his Core Sports Training Facility.

"We'll just have to see what happens."

Wings GM Ken Holland is expected to offer McCarty a deal before Tuesday's contract deadline. The 35-year-old has been working his way into shape playing for the IHL Flint Generals and then the Wings' AHL affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins.

"Mac just keeps making some statements. He's had some great games down in Grand Rapids," said Draper.

McCarty recently admitted he had a problem with marijuana during his two seasons in Calgary following the lockout.

"It was sort of like I didn't have to deal with anything," McCarty told the Detroit Free Press last month. "And I was functional. You wouldn't be able to tell if I was high or if I wasn't. I was depressed, big-time. I just wanted to sleep. I just wanted to be by myself -- or not around people that care about me."

Added to his injury trouble and gambling addiction, things weren't as blissful as they appeared to others.

"It was like, I hated life, I hated me," he said. "I hated what I had become and where I was at. That's how dark it was for me."

A talk with his ex-wife (McCarty is now divorcing the Calgary woman he married during his time here) helped motivate McCarty to enter rehab for three months. A talk with Draper in the fall helped motivate him to attempt a comeback on the ice.

"It's one thing to talk about if he comes back and he's a Detroit Red Wing and plays in the NHL, that's great," said Draper yesterday.

"But his most important thing is he wants to be a better person, he wants to be a better father.

"That's the biggest difference with Darren right now."


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