Darling Day: Blackhawks goaltender honored in hometown of Lemont


Darling Day: Blackhawks goaltender honored in hometown of Lemont

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.”

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Scott Darling gets new Stanley Cup inspired tattoo]

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.”

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Get your Blackhawks Stanley Cup champs gear right here]

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.”

NHL Draft Profile: D Evan Bouchard

NHL Draft Profile: D Evan Bouchard

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Evan Bouchard

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 193 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"A highly intelligent defenseman with exceptional vision and offensive instincts. He reads the play very well and his passing ability allows him to be a constant threat in his team's transition game. He's one of the top offensive-defenseman in the Canadian Hockey League and magician-like when quarterbacking the power play."

NHL player comparable: John Carlson/Alex Pietrangelo

Fit for Blackhawks:

At 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, Bouchard is one of the most NHL-ready defensemen in this year's draft and that could be appetizing for a team like the Blackhawks, who are looking for immediate help on the blue line. But Bouchard is a right-handed shot, and drafting him would add a third high-end right-handed shot defenseman to the organization, along with prospects Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell.

You can never have enough of them, but there's only room for three before somebody would have to play on their off hand and that would mean the third would be playing on the bottom pairing. All three of these players have Top 4 potential.

Still, that may not even come into play here. The Blackhawks will seek to take the best available player, like they always have. And if they feel it's Bouchard, they'll do it.

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Brady Tkachuk

Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 196 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"I know Tkachuk isn't a center, but Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) is another player who comes to mind with his combination of size, strength, skill and nastiness. Tkachuk has impressive hand skills and his upside has only begun because I think there's lots of maturity and growth to come. I've seen his speed and skating improve each of the past three years and I think he'll still get stronger and his balance will get better. His man strength will come and it'll be like, 'Oh boy, look out.'"

NHL player comparable: Matthew Tkachuk/Wayne Simmonds

Fit for Blackhawks:

If you're looking for a player that checks all the boxes in this year's draft, it's Tkachuk. And man could the Blackhawks use a player like him.

He's got offensive skill, willingly goes to the greasy areas, can provide net-front presence while playing a top-six role, and perhaps the most important part for the Blackhawks: he's very close to NHL ready. The Blackhawks will be patient with whoever they draft, but there's also some urgency to turn things around in 2018-19.

If they can draft a player like Tkachuk who can potentially jump into the lineup as early as this upcoming season, that would be ideal. Because he's the type of player that can make an impact, not just get by.