By Nick Nollenberger | AHL On The Beat
John McCarthy is what you’d call a pro’s pro. No matter his role, the city he calls home or level in which he plays, the veteran forward has always gone about his business as the ultimate professional.
This his eighth season in professional hockey, McCarthy has played 439 of his 454 professional games all within the San Jose Sharks organization. A free agent in 2014, McCarthy tested the free-agent waters and quickly signed a two-way deal with the St. Louis Blues after playing five seasons between the San Jose Sharks and their American Hockey (AHL) affiliate the Worcester Sharks. After playing 25 games for the Blues AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, McCarthy was traded back to the Sharks.
Originally drafted by San Jose in the seventh round (#202) in 2007, after the trade back to the Sharks, McCarthy was reunited with long-time head coach Roy Sommer in Worcester. Since that point, McCarthy has signed two more contracts within the San Jose Sharks organization and was named the second captain in Barracuda history in early September.
“John (McCarthy) is just a quality kid; he’s been with the organization for a long time and knows how everyone operates. He is a company man, who left for a bit but came back,” said Sommer. “We appreciate everything he brings, he’s our most detailed guy, we have, and everyone looks up to him.”
With eight current rookies on the Barracuda roster and 12 total players in their first year in the American Hockey League, with an average age of 23 years old, McCarthy’s leadership has never been needed more.
“In a situation like we’re in this year, with as many rookies as we have, it is advantageous that I convey to them Roy’s drills and systems,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy’s longevity in pro hockey has come from his tremendous work ethic and his willingness to do whatever is needed to win. The Boston native and 2009 NCAA national champion at Boston University realized a long time ago that ‘if you aren’t a pure goal scorer you’ve got to do a lot more to get into the lineup.’ McCarthy has 206 career AHL points (85+21=206) in his career over eight seasons.
“You’ve got to kill penalties, block shots, win face-offs, do something else that the coach has to put you in the lineup every night. That’s the attitude I’ve taken my entire career.”
That approach has earned McCarthy 88 career games in the National Hockey League. And although McCarthy always dreamed of playing at hockey’s highest level he didn’t even expect to get drafted in 2007.
“My friend told me I was drafted and I didn’t even believe them. I had to go home a look online, and once I realized it was true, I thought, well maybe they’ll give me a shot, and they did. I’m grateful for that.”
McCarthy has twice donned the ‘C’ in his pro career, first in 2012-13 with the Worcester Sharks and now in 2016-17 with the Barracuda.
Giving McCarthy the Captaincy is just another sign of appreciation and affection the Sharks and Barracuda have for the forward.
Sommer said of McCarthy, “He’s just a quality individual, the type of guy you’d want to marry your daughter.”
Aside from his ability to run the systems, and play the game at a high level, McCarthy’s greatest asset over his career has been the attitude he brings to the rink every day and the Sharks have clearly noticed.