Former Boston Bruin Tom McCarthy can never escape his past, one that saw him serve hard time at Leavenworth Penitentiary.
But he has learned from it, and is helping others do the same.
Having spent more than five years in various Canadian and U.S. prisons after being convicted for drug smuggling in 1994, McCarthy is savouring his second chance, dedicating himself to veering kids in the right direction.
Sixteen years after being charged, McCarthy is now the bench boss of the junior Trenton Golden Hawks of the tier II Ontario Junior Hockey League. In that role, his coaching techniques extend far behind the hockey rink.
Just two weeks ago, his players, ages 16 to 20, cooked pancakes for underpriviledged children. They regularly deliver food to the less fortunate. They even read books to youngsters at Trenton-area schools.
“It’s so important to teach these players life skills,” said McCarthy the other day while attending the NHL Oldtimers Original Six monthly luncheon in Toronto’s north end.
“I know how important that is. In my case, I eventually got in trouble because of who I hung with. At 18, I had never lived away from home before. Sure enough, after 90 days, the phone service was unplugged. I didn’t know about paying for those things.
“Hockey gives us so much. It’s so nice to give something back. That’s what I keep telling my players.”
On Hall of Fame weekend, when the game’s greats are honoured, it’s refreshing to hear about lesser known ex-NHLers like McCarthy who have turned their lives around.
— Mike Zeisberger