Scott Darling carried the Stanley Cup through the Lemont Park District building, a few steps away from where he went to middle school and not far from where he grew up.
“To have my family here and just to be in the streets where I used to ride my bike, hang out and to see people so excited to have me here, it’s been pretty amazing,” said Darling.
Monday marked another memorable day for Darling, who celebrated his Stanley Cup day in Lemont and the surrounding area. Darling took the Cup to Palatine and Bloomingdale this morning before heading back to Lemont, where a few thousand people attended the Cup viewing. Lemont mayor Brian K. Reaves proclaimed Monday Scott Darling Day and also presented a sign bearing Darling’s name, which will be placed on a street sign near the goaltender’s childhood home.
“This is what you dream about, this is the pinnacle of what we worked toward,” Darling said. “It’s pretty amazing.”
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It was just about a year ago that the Blackhawks signed Darling, who, up to that point, had played for four minor-league teams since the fall of 2012. It was a chance for Darling to play for his hometown team, although it didn’t seem to be a major one at the time. Antti Raanta had established himself as the Blackhawks’ backup and had just signed a two-year extension. But Darling impressed the Blackhawks at training camp and when Corey Crawford was hurt in December, Darling started four consecutive road games and won three of them.
In February the Blackhawks signed Darling to his own two-year extension and sent Raanta to Rockford. The Blackhawks made their choice of backup goaltender then but they reconfirmed it on Saturday when they traded Raanta to the New York Rangers. While Darling and Raanta fought for the same job here, Darling said the two remain close.
“He and I, through a pretty uncomfortable situation, remained really great friends,” Darling said. “He’s a great guy. We continue to be friends and I wish him the best of luck (in New York). It’s an exciting opportunity for him and for me, too.”
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Darling won’t relax now that the backup goaltending job is his. His signing last summer and emergence this season is the perfect example of how things can change. Still, it’s looking good for Darling. The Blackhawks like what he brings and he played a critical role in the team’s first-round victory over the Nashville Predators.
Soon, the furor will die down and Darling will be able to reflect on the whirlwind that’s been this past year – “that’ll probably start tomorrow… maybe turn my phone off and enjoy it a little bit.” For one more day, however, Darling was enjoying the Cup reverie among those who know him best.
“It means a lot,” Darling said. “I never forgot where I came from. I call this home; I always have my whole life. I played baseball with the Lemont Indians. I see the kids in Orland Park jerseys. They’re on their way; they’re on the right path. It’s exciting.”