Darren McCarty Looks Back: 'Off The Ice, I Wanted To Think About Music'

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Colorful tales about rambunctious times on and off the ice fill a new memoir by Darren McCarty, who recalls heavy drinking, cocaine and Ecstasy use, being "an NHL enforcer" and living "like a wild adult" during 11 seasons with the Wings (1992-2003).

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Darren McCarty's lively memoir went on sale Saturday as a 208-page hardback and an e-book.

"My Last Fight," a 208-page hardback and e-book that went on sale today, also has "marvelous stories about the Red Wings during one of their golden eras," Greg Krupa writes in The Detroit News.

From McCarty’s perspective, it all played out behind the scenes a bit more like life at the heaviest partying fraternity on campus.

In addition, the 41-year-old riffs about nine years as a songwriting guitarist-singer with a five-man local band, upholding the book's subtitle: "The True Story of a Hockey Rock Star."

Though star overstates it, McCarty depicts his time on stage as providing "the same adrenaline surge" as hockey.

"We formed the band Grinder in in 1997 . . . to help raise money for Sergei Mnatsakanov and Vladimir Konstantinov after they were injured severely in the 1997 limousine accident," he writes with co-author Kevin Allen, veteran hockey writer for USA Today.

He and bandmates Billy Reedy, Eli Ruhf, James Anders Eric Miller contributed one song to a 19-track benefit CD in 1998, "Believing in Detroit: A Tribute to Vladdy and Sergei." 

But it wasn't a novelty band or a brief lark for the Wings forward, who writes: "When I was off the ice, I wanted to think about music., not hockey."

Treasured mementos include "a great photo" of himself "singing on stage with Kid Rock at the Jefferson Beach Marina after the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2002." 

Here are other excerpts from the 12-page chapter titled "Grinder," via Google Books:

When i was playing hockey for the Detroit Red Wings while at the same time performing in my rock band Grinder, I felt like I was living every man's double-career fantasy.

How many males in North America would love to be both a professional athlete and a rock 'n' roller> those days when scoring goals was my day job and writing tunes was my side job certainly were among the best times of my life.


McCarty with Stanley in 2002.

In 2005, Grinder played for 12,000 people at the Arts, Beats and Eats festival in Pontiac, Michigan, and I remember looking out over the crowd and feeling the same rush of emotion that I experienced in a playoff hockey game. . . .

Grinder was alive in various forms from 1997 to about 2006, and we made two albums. I'd estimate we performed live approximately 120 times.

"Our music is stripped-down rock 'n' roll with a little bit of punk," I told Sports Illustrated in 2005.

There was a Nirvana influence as well, and certainly some MC5 influence. 

The Detroit Red Wings never truly understood how important the band was to me. They viewed it as a distraction to my hockey career, and it probably was. I was very serious about my efforts to make Grinder a successful band. I believed I could do both jobs well. Every time I stepped on the ice, I gave it all that I had. But when I was off the ice, I wanted to think about music, not hockey. . . .

I never had any delusions about my ability as a musician. I was not a natural. . . . But what I had was an intense desire to improve, and I did improve. I received some voice coaching and I worked at my new craft. I listened to how others did it.

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