Of the 23 players on the Chicago Wolves roster Thursday afternoon, defenseman Chris Butler is the only one who spent more time in the National Hockey League last season than John McCarthy.
The 28-year-old left wing appeared in 36 games for the San Jose Sharks and contributed 1 goal and 1 assist while playing on a checking line. McCarthy posted 3 goals and 3 assists in 87 NHL games over the last five seasons as he split time between San Jose and the AHL’s Worcester Sharks.
At the end of last season, McCarthy became a free agent. A few days into free agency, the St. Louis Blues contacted him and he signed a two-way deal that allowed him to become a part of the Wolves organization.
McCarthy has spent the first three weeks of the season as part of either the Wolves’ top line or No. 2 line. He’s usually on the ice with some combination of Ty Rattie, Pat Cannone, Shane Harper and Philip McRae. McCarthy has delivered one assist in five games this year as scoring isn’t necessarily No. 1 on his ice-time agenda.
“I kind of pride myself on being dependable,” McCarthy said. “I play a two-way game. I take care of my own end and then chip in offensively when I can. I like to be the go-to guy on the penalty kill – the guy the coach likes to put out there in the last minute. That’s the guy I want to be.”
“McCarthy has a tremendous amount of speed,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson. “Very slick.”
“I try to kill penalties and speed always helps in those situations,” McCarthy said. “Skating is something that I work on and I take pride in. “
McCarthy also takes pride in his roots. He grew up in Andover, Mass., which is 20 miles north of Boston, spent four years playing at Boston University and now lives in South Boston. While he doesn’t affect the “Southie” accent that Chicagoans heard from Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in “Good Will Hunting,” he loves his New England Patriots.
“I’m a huge Pats fan,” he said. “Watch them every week. I love football.”
McCarthy also has a movie tip for everyone: Check out “Black Mass,” which profiles imprisoned South Boston mobster Whitey Bulger, when it’s released next fall.
“They were shooting it this summer,” he said. “Johnny Depp was playing Whitey. It’s going to be good. You could see him shooting all the scenes.”