Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 37

Kirk Maltby proves that getting a family photo with the Stanley Cup isn't such an easy task with newborn twins. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Kirk Maltby is a warrior. Having completed his fourteenth NHL season in 2007-08, the workhorse was able to celebrate his fourth Stanley Cup championship with Detroit, one of a core group that includes Kris Draper, Nicklas Lidstrom, Darren McCarty and Tomas Holmstrom.

While starring with the Owen Sound Platers of the Ontario Hockey League, Kirk was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers, and in 1993, was part of a Calder Cup championship with Edmonton's American Hockey League affiliate, the Cape Breton Oilers. In his first NHL game, played October 8, 1993, Maltby scored his first NHL goal. But during his third season in the Alberta capital, Kirk was traded to Detroit for Dan McGillis. Since then, he has proven to be a reliable performer, and for many seasons, paired with Draper and Darren McCarty to form the highly effect Grind Line.

Although born in Guelph, Ontario, Kirk decided to stage his celebration in Grosse Pointe, an exclusive Detroit suburb nestled along the shores of Lake St. Clair. Kirk maximized his time with the Stanley Cup, visiting a number of businesses he frequents in both Grosse Pointe and Grosse Pointe Woods.

Maltby and Stanley kick back and relax at A.J. Nails and Spa. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The Stanley Cup landed in Maltby's arms on Saturday, August 23, and was immediately placed on the front lawn of his home for a series of family photographs. Kirk, his wife, 4-year-old daughter and newborn twins were fine, but the dog wouldn't sit still for a moment. Finally, the photographer was able to capture the entire family surrounding the Cup.

The day simply rolled on from there. Kirk and his wife visited a succession of friends at their place of business, offering photos with the amazing hockey trophy. First up was the Edwin Paul Spa, followed by Dapper Dog Wash, the pet grooming company owned by the Jackson family. Next, it was A.J. Nails and Spa, followed by Pointe Fitness and Training Center, the gym where Kirk works out with trainer Ken Welsh.

In the midst of an action packed day, Kirk Maltby found time to take a few photos with the Cup along the shores of Lake St. Clair. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The family stopped for a bite to eat at Ferlito's Family Dining and Pizza restaurant, then travelled to Edmund T. Ahee Jewelers. After that stop, the Maltbys visited New Edge Martial Arts. With training from Cindy Lee New, a 4th Dan Master instructor, and Kevin Nilson, a 4th Dan Black Belt instructor, it's no wonder that Kirk is fearless on the ice. Cindy and Kevin teach Mool Sool Do, a combination of Korean martial arts. The final visit of the afternoon was to George Koueiter & Sons Jewelers.

Saturday had been a busy day, and the pace was less harried on Sunday, August 24. In the morning, the entire family, with the Stanley Cup, worshipped at Grosse Pointe Baptist Church. Reverend Matthew Swiatek, the senior pastor, was delighted to have such an esteemed visitor in the midst of his congregation. Lunch was enjoyed at DaEdoardo's, a wonderful restaurant run by the Barbieri family. That night, Kirk hosted a Stanley Cup celebration at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club. After entering the exclusive club, passing by the bronze sculpture, Rhythm of the Waves, guests enjoyed a feast and evening of fun and friendship.

* * *

'The road is long, with many a winding turn.'

This line, excerpted from 'He Ain't Heavy, He's my Brother', most notably recorded by The Hollies, seems appropriate as the soundtrack to Darren McCarty's day with the Stanley Cup. You see, it's been quite a journey for Darren.

Darren McCarty gets the day started right with breakfast at Greek Islands Coney Restaurant.
(Mike Bolt/HHOF)
While linemates Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper are enjoying their fourth Stanley Cup, so too is McCarty, but even he would admit that he believed it was highly improbable that this day would ever come.

In 1992, McCarty was drafted by the Red Wings after scoring 55 goals and 127 points, as well as 177 penalty minutes, with the OHL's Belleville Bulls. Joining Detroit in 1993-94, Darren assumed the role of an energy player, making big hits, foiling opponents and netting a handful of goals each season. Loved by his teammates and the fans alike, Darren was a sizable part of the Wings' championships in 1997, 1998 and 2002.

After the NHL lock-out, Darren signed with the Calgary Flames, and spent two seasons in Alberta. But even before he left Detroit, McCarty had changed. Some attribute the evolution to McCarty's embracing of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle that accompanied being the lead 'shouter' (a term Darren suggests) in a Detroit band called Grinder. A string of challenges faced McCarty, and after the 2006-07 season, he was out of hockey.

On the day that Stanley came to visit, McCarty was easily the coolest kid on the block. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Feeling listless and lost, Darren eventually reached out to his long-time friend Kris Draper, who hadn't heard from his pal for some time. "Drapes," Darren meekly began, "I've got to play hockey again. Will you help me?" Draper told McCarty that he would do what he could, but he needed his friend to commit to the pursuit.

That pursuit began at a gym owned in part by Draper, and McCarty began the training sessions that led to his return. He was given a shot with the Flint Generals of the International Hockey League, a team, fortuitously, also owned partially by Draper. McCarty found most of his stride, and scored 3 goals and 6 points in 11 games. He stepped up to the next rung on the hockey ladder, and with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League, pumped in 5 goals and 10 points in 13 AHL games.

Draper asked Wings management to give Darren a shot with the Red Wings, and with just 3 games left in the regular season schedule, they agreed, and with a smile as wide as the Detroit River, the unlikeliest Red Wing stepped onto the ice wearing his familiar number 25. Although he didn't score during that stint, he proved his worth and contributed to the drive towards Lord Stanley's Cup. All through the playoffs, Darren was placed in the line-up, and in a tale that parallels any screenplay, Darren McCarty returned to his former team and for an incredible fourth time, embraced his friends and incredulously, became a Stanley Cup champion.

From Grosse Pointe to Birmingham, Michigan isn't far, but from where Darren came a year before, it might as well have been on the other side of the world. McCarty savoured every moment he had with the Cup on Monday, August 25.

The day started with breakfast at Greek Islands Coney Restaurant. Joining him and the Stanley Cup were his Mom Roberta and his ex-wife Cheryl. Darren and Cheryl are parents to four children.

Full and raring to go, Darren next took the Stanley Cup to the Barber Pole, the local barbershop in Birmingham. While Darren talked to owner Steve Trachsel, a crowd of people peered into the shop to see the Stanley Cup, and soon, a line-up snaked its way down the street with fans anxious to get a picture with the trophy. While the bedlam ensued, Darren and Cheryl's 12-year-old son Griffin got his back-to-school haircut.

At Stroh's Ice Cream Parlour, the Stanley Cup was used as the ultimate ice cream bowl for McCarty and his kids. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The kids wanted ice cream, so Darren took them to Stroh's Ice Cream Parlour, their favourite spot. A combination of the tastiest ice cream around plus a vessel as special as the Stanley Cup made for an unbeatable combination, and the kids and friends quickly scooped spoonfuls of chocolate, cookie dough, strawberry and vanilla ice cream, smothered in chocolate syrup and sprinkles, out of the Cup.

The Cup then stopped at several other local businesses in Birmingham — The Varsity sporting goods store, Teacups and Toys (a pet store) and even St. Regis Catholic School where all four McCarty kids attend. Although school was not yet back in session, several of the teachers were preparing their classrooms and were delighted to see the McCarty children, their Dad and the Stanley Cup.

Next up was a visit to the gym where Darren's comeback began in earnest. The Core Sports Fitness Center in nearby Troy is well acquainted with McCarty, and has a photo of Darren's infamous one-sided slugfest with Claude Lemieux hanging on the wall.

Kris Draper stages his hockey school out of the facility, and Darren decided to visit his pal and the hockey school students, who were thrilled to get their pictures taken with the Stanley Cup and two heroes — Draper and McCarty — who signed autographs for the kids.

That night, Cheryl McCarty held a Stanley Cup victory party at her Birmingham home. Although Darren no longer drinks alcohol, he was satisfied to sip water while guests enjoyed harder beverages. The food was plentiful and delicious, and for but a moment, the Stanley Cup was ignored as friends and family piled their plates high with food. But the Stanley Cup always draws attention like magpies to shiny objects. A never-ceasing procession of photos was soon taken with guests embracing hockey's greatest prize.

Although the words are never articulated, it is clear that McCarty was savouring this celebration above all the others. As The Hollies sang, it was a long, long road with many a winding turn, and to be back home, even temporarily, and to observe the sheer joy on the faces of his children, who would have been too young (or still just a twinkle in their Dad's eye) to fully appreciate the previous Stanley Cup wins, was clearly the greatest gift of all for this Detroit Red Wing champion.

* * *

On Friday, we'll let you know just who this Stanley guy was, so join us then for the Stanley Cup Journal.

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

All Photographs are property of the Hockey Hall of Fame or Getty Images and may not be reproduced without prior written consent. For more information regarding use of our photographs please contact us.
 
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