The Canucks acquired McCarthy from the Chicago Blackhawks in August 2005 in exchange for a third-round pick in 2007 with much fanfare. The team had been interested in McCarthy for a couple of years already, but finally pulled the trigger on a trade after a new collective bargaining agreement was signed and rules changes put a greater emphasis was put on speed and skill.
Canucks general manager Dave Nonis said this about McCarthy:
“His skill set is puck movement and without the red-line and without the obstruction we have had in the game in the past he is a guy we felt could really help in that regard,” Nonis said Thursday after the Canucks wrapped up their second of four days of workouts.
“He is a very good puck-mover, he is a guy the coaches can use on the power play. He is not a big bruising defenceman, but he is smart. I think that is how the game is going to be played from now on. If you can’t use your hand to clutch on to an opponent who is trying to beat you, you have to be in position and that is going to be foot speed and intelligence and he’s pretty good in both of those areas.”
McCarthy came to Vancouver after struggling in the Chicago Blackhawks organization and was going to be a reclamation project of sorts for the Canucks.
The problem was the defenceman was never “comfortable” in Vancouver either and he was not any “stronger” from his experiences in Chicago. He requested a trade in Decemberafter just over two months with the Canucks and “questioned the atmosphere of the Canucks dressing room.”
“It’s no secret there’s been a few ups and downs in Chicago,” said McCarthy, 24, selected 23rd overall in the 1999 NHL draft. “I was never really comfortable. I was in and out of the lineup and I always felt on the outs a little bit. But I’ve learned from it. It’s made me stronger, it’s going to make me a better hockey player and it makes you grow as a person.
“For every negative there’s hopefully a few positives that will come out of it. And it has. I feel good and this is my chance to shine. Hopefully I can do that.”
The Canucks accommodated his request at the trade deadline after the team loaded up with veterans Keith Carney, Eric Weinrich, and Sean Brown. (Who could forget how much of a bust these three were.)
The team was only able to receive a conditional fourth round pick for McCarthy. The drop-off in return did not bode too well with Canucks fans and his comments about the dressing room did not help either. (The Canucks eventually traded the pick back to the Thrashers in the summer of 2006 for Tommi Santala, who also turned out to be a bust I might add.)
Last Sunday, speaking with the Vancouver Sun, McCarthy accepted blame for his failed stint in the Canucks organization.
“I didn’t,” admitted McCarthy, who had just two goals and six points with the Canucks. “I think things got blown out of proportion. That wasn’t anybody but myself. I struggled and got down and you worry about things you can’t control. It seemed to snowball and a lot of it was immaturity and not knowing how to handle certain situations.
“The harder I was on myself, the worse things went and it seemed like I couldn’t get away from it. Whether it was at the rink or on TV, your family and friends want to know what’s going on and when you play in a market like that, that [scrutiny] is what you expect.”
McCarthy is on a professional tryout agreement with the Abbotsford Heat. He currently has three assists in four games.