Scott Darling admitted to being nervous about his NHL debut, but looked calm turning aside 32 Ottawa Senators shots for his first career win.
“Excitement. And I was a little bit terrified,” Darling told CSNChicago.com following the 2-1 win. “I was just trying not to think too much.”
Darling, who grew up in Lemont, Illinois – about 28 miles from the United Center, had 20 to 30 family members in attendance to witness his first NHL start.
“This is 20 years of work coming into this one game,” Darling said. “I’ve been a Blackhawks fan since I knew what hockey was. I started playing goalie at 5, and I’m 25 now. I’m just happy the way it worked out.”
It’s been a long road for Darling, who began his professional career with two seasons in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
“He was rock solid. Excellent start to his career here at the NHL level,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He was big, and we needed him early in the game. He was settled down, patient, controlled his rebounds and moved extremely fast and quick. It was a big game for him, and us as well.”
Darling, originally a sixth-round pick of the Arizona Coyotes (153rd overall 2007), is no stranger in the Blackhawks dressing room. Patrick Kane, who was selected 152 spots before Darling at the ’07 draft, grew up going to hockey schools with Darling.
“I joke around with him, saying he’s a lot better now than he was then,” Kane said. “He’s had a great run the past few years. He’s moving up one league each year. To play his first NHL game tonight in his hometown and play the game he did, I’m sure it’s exciting for him. There are good things ahead for him.”
With Corey Crawford nearing a return from an upper body, it’s uncertain how many more games, if any, Darling will get on this call-up, but he certainly made a good first impression.