Friday

Tom McCarthy

Did you know that Wayne Gretzky was not the 1st player chosen in the 1977 OHA midget draft? Despite being known as a national prodigy since the age of 6, Gretzky actually was chosen third by Sault Ste. Marie.

Drafted #2 was a kid named Steve Peters, and he never amounted to much as far as the NHL was concerned, playing in just 2 games with the old Colorado Rockies. Niagara Falls selected Peters over Gretzky only because the Gretzky family had said Wayne would not play anywhere other than Peterborough. (The Petes had the 4th pick, but plans were foiled when the Soo Greyhounds took Gretzky anyways. Gretzky did eventually report.)

Going first overall to Oshawa was a big strapping winger named Tom McCarthy. McCarthy went on to a great junior career, and was considered the top underaged draft eligible player in 1979. The Minnesota North Stars selected McCarthy 10th overall.

Nicknamed "Jughead" or just "Jug" due to his resemblance to the Archie comics character, McCarthy played nine seasons, scoring 178 goals and 221 assists for 399 points in 460 games with Minny and Boston. His best years were with Minnesota. In the 1982-83 season he scored 76 points in 80 games. The following season McCarthy had 70 points in 60 regular season games playing on a line with Dino Ciccarelli and Neal Broten.

McCarthy's size gave him presence, and it was amplified by his agility, speed and creativity as well as his willingness to go into high traffic areas (at least in the offensive zone). His goal scoring totals and creativity playing along side Ciccarelli and Broten certainly made him even more noticeable, although his coaches probably were more annoyed with his lack of a defensive game and at-times lazy work ethic.

McCarthy was a popular player in Minnesota. For a time he owned and operated a fish and chips restaurant in the area called "McCarthy's: Just for the Halibut" which was a popular eatery.

Injuries plagued McCarthy during his career. He missed nearly half of the 1984-85 regular season and part of the 1985 playoffs due to vision trouble resulting from a concussion suffered when he was punched by Tiger Williams in a Feb.14, 1985 game. At other times in his career he also injured his back in car accident, broke a bone in his back when he crashed into the goal post, and missed time with a paralyzed face as he was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy.

McCarthy also had problems off the ice. He struggled with alcoholism during his years in Minnesota and spent time at the Betty Ford Clinic. He was arrested in 1994 by the FBI and pleaded guilty to driving a truckload of marijuana from California to Minnesota. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison, in which he served time in several jails in both USA and Canada. During his time in Leavenworth, Kansas he organized a prison hockey school.

Fortunately McCarthy was able to clean his life up after getting out of prison. He returned to hockey, coaching youth in the greater Toronto area.

3 comments:

Anonymous,  July 7, 2012 at 4:08 PM  

I know Tom personally, and you cannot find a more sincere, honest and hardworking individual if your life depended on it. His love of the game is demonstrated through his devotion to the sport by participating and contributing to the youths of today. Gauge us on who we are, not you we were.

Anonymous,  October 15, 2012 at 10:02 PM  

Agreed with the last comment, Toms love of the game is shown by how he teaches the kids the game and teaches them life lessons along the way, check out Toms current team www.northbaytrappers.com
ask these kids what they think of tom, its amazing to hear how the kids love him, definitly dont judge on the past.

Anonymous,  October 9, 2015 at 4:57 PM  

I knew him in high school. nice guy. too bad about his trouble with the law.

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