In his goodbye to his hometown Chicago Blackhawks, goalie Scott Darling opens up about his battle with alcoholism and the journey he took to get to the NHL. Darling was recently traded to the Carolina Hurricanes and signed a four-year contract to be the team’s starting goalie.
On July 1, 2011, I ended up in a room with tubes and wires hooked up all over my body. There was a little machine beeping that showed my vital signs. It was my first day of rehab. I had been drinking every single day for eight months. I had just been released by a team in the Southern Pro Hockey League. I had no money, no hope. My dreams were effectively over. All I wanted, at that point, was to be a normal person again.
I remember opening my eyes. The ceiling was blurry, and my body ached, and I thought, How the f*** did this happen?
On, July 1, 2014, exactly three years to the day after I went to rehab, I signed with the team I’d rooted for my entire life. My hometown team. The Chicago freaking Blackhawks.
I remember thinking to myself once again, How the f*** did this happen?
You should get used to that phrase, because it’s going to appear quite a bit in this story. For the past few months, I’ve been trying to figure out how to say goodbye to Chicago, and I just couldn’t find the words. In writing this story, I got choked up four or five different times. Maybe that sounds ridiculous, but that’s only if you don’t know how low of a place I clawed my way up from.
The thing about alcoholism is that you never think you have a problem. That’s how it gets you. Because it always starts small. For me, it started as a way to cope with social anxiety. Ever since I was a kid, I kind of lived inside my own brain. I was an introvert, and I was so worried about what everyone thought about me at all times. Like if I walked into a room of 100 people, I wanted to make sure all 100 people thought I was cool. I was obsessed with being the best version of myself at all times.
PHOTO BY TODD ROSENBERG/THE PLAYERS’ TRIBUNE