Monday February 8th, 2016

It was one of those stories that pops up routinely on social media, a friend-of-a-friend retelling of an interaction with a well-known hockey player.

Typically, they’re best digested with a large grain of salt. But this one, involving Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Scott Darling, was different. Because this is one everyone wanted to believe.

It hung out there for a couple hours, getting passed around feed to feed, until Darling himself took to Twitter to humbly acknowledge the story.

That Darling would quietly make that kind of gesture is no surprise to those who know him. The 27-year-old has battled his own demons, including mental health issues and alcoholism, and was all but out of hockey before getting the help he needed to regain control of his life. He knows what it’s like to live on the edges and what it means when someone reaches out a hand and says they believe in you.

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Darling took that hand when he reached rock bottom and worked his way back into hockey. The Predators took a chance on him after goaltending coach Mitch Korn famously watched a video of his one of Darling’s workouts on YouTube. When his deal with Nashville was up, the Hawks came calling. It wasn’t long before he earned a ticket to Chicago, where he played a critical role on the way to the 2015 Stanley Cup.

That success hasn’t made him rich—Darling is making just $575,000 this season, the league minimum—but it's enough to remind him how lucky he is to be where he’s at. And it’s enough to lend a hand when he saw someone who needed one.

What a beauty.

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