Is­lan­ders add for­mer NHLer as as­sis­tant coach

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - SPORTS - TIM GORDANIER

They may have lost twice last week­end, but the Gananoque Is­lan­ders made a per­son­nel move prior to those Provin­cial Ju­nior Hockey League games that man­age­ment be­lieves will help the play­ers both on and off the ice.

Last week the Is­lan­ders hired for­mer Na­tional Hockey League all-star and long­time ju­nior hockey coach Tom McCarthy, 58, as an as­sis­tant coach.

McCarthy was a mi­nor hockey phe­nom and was cho­sen first over­all by the Oshawa Gen­er­als in the 1977 On­tario Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League Pri­or­ity Se­lec­tion from the North York Rangers of the On­tario Provin­cial Ju­nior Hockey League, two picks ahead of Wayne Gret­zky. The Rangers were at the time an af­fil­i­ate of the Kingston Cana­di­ans and McCarthy ac­tu­ally scored his first ma­jor ju­nior goal (Oct. 30, 1976, in a 7-3 loss to the Toronto Marl­boros at Maple Leaf Gar­dens) as a mem­ber of the Cana­di­ans dur­ing a call-up.

He would go on to col­lect 93 points in 62 games as a rookie with the Gen­er­als in 1977-78 and then ex­ploded the next sea­son for 69 goals and 144 points. He was sub­se­quently picked 10th over­all by the Min­nesota North Stars in the 1979 NHL En­try Draft and went on to play seven sea­sons with the North Stars be­fore be­ing traded to the Bos­ton Bru­ins. He spent one full sea­son and part of the next with the Bru­ins be­fore in­juries drove him into re­tire­ment af­ter the 1987-88 sea­son. He scored 178 goals and 399 points in 460 NHL games.

Fol­low­ing his ca­reer, McCarthy ran with some shady char­ac­ters and ul­ti­mately ran into trou­ble with the law. In 1993, he pleaded guilty to con­spir­ing to dis­trib­ute co­caine and mar­i­juana and spent five years in prison. Dur­ing his time be­hind bars, McCarthy com­mit­ted to turn­ing his life around. He started a ball hockey league in prison and learned he was a pretty good hockey teacher.

As soon as he was re­leased from prison, he be­gan his coach­ing ca­reer. He coached midget hockey in home­town Mis­sis­sauga for five years (1998-99 to 2002-03) be­fore guid­ing tier II ju­nior teams for the next 15 years in Huntsville, Tren­ton, North Bay and Es­panola, and also had a brief stop in Ro­ma­nia in 2016.

Then came this sea­son and a chance meet­ing with Is­lan­ders part owner and as­sis­tant coach Randy Cas­ford and head coach Brian Beg­bie at the Kingston Voyageurs train­ing camp. All par­ties came away im­pressed.

“We met at the Vees camp when Brian Beg­bie and I were work­ing the benches. We all hit it off right away,” Cas­ford said. “[Vees gen­eral man­ager-coach] Pe­ter Goulet said he was a great guy and might be mov­ing to Kingston...

“I learned about his past right away and also went home and watched the YouTube video of his in­ter­view on Hockey Night in Canada (www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxfvAl­cD8hc). Af­ter hang­ing with Tom for a week­end and watch­ing that video, it was quick learn­ing that the per­son Tom is, is noth­ing but a lov­ing and car­ing per­son who lives for help­ing kids and shar­ing his vast knowl­edge of the game.

“Peo­ple make mis­takes. It is what they do af­ter that that shows their true char­ac­ter, and Tom has proven that who­ever is around him be­comes bet­ter. He is a dif­fer­ence­maker on and off the ice.”

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