When Detroit Red Wings fans think of Darren McCarty, they instantly think back to some of the greatest moments in team history that the grinding forward played a key role in.
From the classic pummeling of villain Claude Lemieux and scoring a highlight-reel Stanley Cup winning goal to completing an amazing comeback resulting in a fourth Stanley Cup ring, McCarty is usually always at the top of the list of fans favorite former players.
But McCarty struggled with substance abuse throughout his life that led to several stints in rehab, court battles, and the end of two marriages.
“For me, growing up, you were either a jock or stoner, so I never smoked pot growing up, but I’ve been drinking since I was 12 or 13 years old. That was acceptable in the hockey circles, it’s just culturally what was accepted,” McCarty said during his podcast “Grind Time with Darren McCarty”. “So I would always say no to pot, until after my first surgery in 1999. I was on all these pills, and it was driving me crazy. And I’m an insomniac, so I can’t sleep, and that had a lot to do with all the drinking.”
Trying marijuana on the advice of a friend didn’t stop his extreme drinking, and it all came to a head in 2015.
“I was in a coma and when I woke up after seven days, I didn’t have a physical addiction,” McCarty said. “I dropped to my knees and said, ‘Thank God.'”
Since then, McCarty has given up the booze and cigarettes and has lost 60 lbs.
“If you’ve seen my progress over the past 10 years, you’ve seen me go through different stages from the alcoholism, which led me to this plant saving my life,” he said. “I feel like I’m 35. I’m not lying. I feel like Benjamin Button.”
McCarty is now McCarty has forming a collaboration with Pincanna, a medical marijuana company just north of Bay City. He’ll be lending his name to products ranging from a CBD rub and gummy, to a mellowing strain of marijuana and a high-potency, marijuana-infused chocolate peanut-butter candy bar that will “crush” those who choose to indulge.
“I have a couple of ideas for the names (of the marijuana strains). Something to do with four cups, maybe sweet revenge,” McCarty said. “The names will come from some pretty big moments that I’ve had.”
With four Stanley Cup rings, he now wants to win different kind of “Cup”: a Cannabis Cup — a marijuana competition that is held all over the United States to rate different pot products
“I’m a four-time Stanley Cup winner, they’re a 45-time Cannabis Cup winner,” he said. “I’m going to be the first athlete with a Stanley Cup and a Cannabis Cup.”
He disagreed with the notion that he simply just traded one substance for another.
“No, because it’s a plant,” he said. “I live my life by the principles, the 12 steps. But you know what? There’s a friggin’ garden in my program.
“And the bottom line is, I’m not drinking. I’m not doing coke. I’m not doing pills. I’m not smoking cigarettes. In my book, what you think about me is none of my business because I know I’m right. The big fella told me so,” McCarty said, pointing skyward.
“Yeah, I’m a stoner, but I’m a sophisticated stoner.”