(CBS) Former Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling, traded to the Hurricanes in late April, expressed his heartfelt thanks to those in Chicago in a lengthy piece for The Players’ Tribune that detailed the roller coaster hockey career he’s had.
After opening up further about his alcohol addiction that stunted his development and performance earlier in his career, Darling concluded his piece by calling it “amazing” to play for the Blackhawks from 2014-’17, as it was the team the Lemont native grew up rooting for.
“Top to bottom that organization is filled with amazing people,” Darling wrote. “They all treated me like I belonged. The front office was great to me, my coaches were amazing to me and treated me like an NHL goalie. That may sound funny coming from me, but it took me a while to stop thinking that everyone looked at me like a random SPHL guy. I made so many great friends on the team, the p.r. team, the training staff, the equipment guys … I could go on for days.”
Darling cited his playing time in the first-round series against the Predators in 2015 — which the Blackhawks won en route to a championship — as one of his favorite memories. He admitted that upon being told he was replacing starter Corey Crawford mid-game in Game 1 of that contest, he vomited in the locker room.
“In 40 years, I’ll tell my kids about Game 1 against Nashville,” Darling wrote. “I’ll tell them what it felt like to lift the Cup. But more importantly, I’ll tell them about Johnny and Brent and Duncan and Crow and Kaner and Shaw and on and on. I’ll tell them about all the time we spent in hotels, and on buses and airplanes, just talking about hockey, and about life — and if it was Johnny, probably about life on Mars.
“It all means more to me than anyone will ever understand.
“I love you, guys.
“I love you, Chicago.
“I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Darling’s turning point was going to alcohol rehab in July 2011.
“The experience was incredibly humbling,” he wrote. “Just hearing stories of what other people had gone through in their lives was a huge wake-up call for me. Realizing that I still had a family that loved me and friends who cared about me, plus a very specific skill set … I mean, 99% of the people I met in there would’ve done anything for those things. It was a complete release to finally talk about my fears, and my anxiety, and why I drank. I had spent my whole life worried about what other people thought of me, and then all of a sudden I was just … free.”