ROCKFORD – In the middle of the last decade, around the time when the Blackhawks were winning their third Stanley Cup, he was one of the best stories on the team.
After struggles in his college days at the University of Maine and his early 20s, Lemont native Scott Darling blossomed into a capable backup to Corey Crawford. He even won playoff games during their first round Stanley Cup Playoff series against Nashville in 2015 as the team went onto win a third championship in six years.
After the 2017 season, Darling was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes where he had the shot to be the No. 1 goaltender for the franchise.
But after just two years with that team and a year in Austrian Hockey League, the goalie is giving it one more try with the Blackhawks organization.
As their training camp began on Monday, the Rockford IceHogs, the AHL affiliate of the team, announced that they’ve signed Darling to a professional tryout agreement. It doesn’t guarantee anything for the goaltender for the AHL’s shortened 2021 season, but it does give him a shot to earn a spot on a North American team.
Signed by the Blackhawks in July of 2014 after a strong showing with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL the previous season, Darling made his debut with the team during the 2014-2015 season. When Corey Crawford was struggling in the team’s first round playoff series with the Predators, Darling filled in for him and played in five games, four of which were starts.
Crawford would take over after that and help the team to the Stanley Cup championship in June.
Darling remained a back-up the next two seasons, but with Crawford still going strong in net, the Blackhawks didn’t extend his contract. Instead they pulled off a trade in the summer of 2017 with the Carolina Hurricanes, giving the goalie a shot at their number one job.
In that first season, however, Darling went just 13-21-7 with a 3.18 goals against average, and in November of 2018 was placed on waivers by the Hurricanes after just eight games. He’s spent the next few months with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL before taking a leave of absence in February of 2019.
That summer, Darling was traded to the Florida Panthers but was quickly released, which prompted him to join Innsbruck HC of the Austrian Hockey League. In 33 games, he went 9-24 with a 3.34 goals against average before that season was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.