Scott Darling: ‘I’m auditioning for the Blackhawks’
The Chicago goaltender is an unrestricted free agent after this season. This is as good a way as he can address it.
Let’s take a moment to look at Scott Darling’s career to date, shall we?
He was drafted in the sixth round, 153rd overall, by the Phoenix Coyotes back in 2007. Then, he was coming off of a .924 save percentage during 22 games in the EJHL. He went on to the USHL the following season, and played two years for the University of Maine in the NCAA, after which things fell apart due to a variety of factors.
So it was the the SPHL. And the ECHL. And the CHL, and a bit of the AHL. Darling bounced around minor leagues for years until finally, on the first day of free agency in 2014, the Chicago Blackhawks decided to take a chance on him.
The extra cool thing about that: it was his hometown team. The very team he grew up cheering for. The marker where it turns into a sentimental sports movie script, but like, a good one.
Darling split time between Rockford and Chicago that year, putting up good numbers - a .927 save percentage in the AHL, .936 in the NHL - but his crowning moment came in the playoffs, when Corey Crawford was struggling and Darling ended up stepping in during the first round.
No first round win, no Stanley Cup that year.
With his hometown team, too. That was as worthy a cause as ever to re-sign Darling - especially to a cheap contract at a time when the Blackhawks were right up against the cap and desperate for them.
Which brings us to today. Crawford is still out, recovering from his emergency appendectomy. In his absence, Darling has stepped up to the task, putting up stellar numbers and, more importantly, helping the Blackhawks win. And yet - he’s still without a contract after this season.
Scott Darling on his pending UFA status: "I'm auditioning for the #Blackhawks right now. I want to be a Blackhawk."— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) December 14, 2016
Darling will soon be 28 years old. This most recent stretch of starts is really helping prove how good a goalie he can be - so to hear that Chicago is the place he wants to stay is definitely an awesome thing.
Crawford is good. With Darling there right alongside him, that provides the Hawks with two solid goaltending options. We’ll see how long that lasts for - but the way things are going, the Hawks might just be able to expect two quality goalies beyond this season, too.
What a story.