by Matt Collamer | AHL On The Beat Archive
Playing hockey for a living is a dream in itself. What about playing professionally just 45 minutes from where you grew up?
That dream is a reality for John McCarthy.
The veteran left winger is back in Worcester after being loaned to the Sharks from the St. Louis Blues’ organization back in mid-January. The 28-year-old Andover, Mass. native is excited to be back home in Massachusetts, where he spent his college hockey days and the bulk of his professional career.
Worcester’s head coach Roy Sommer is happy to have McCarthy back in town.
“He brings an element of veteran leadership,” Sommer said. “He’s a good citizen that cares about his teammates. It’s a win-win for us.”
The forward ranks third all-time in games played (250) and fifth in goals (54) with Worcester.
“I’ve been here a lot of years, and I have relationships with the people, so it’s really good to be back,” said McCarthy on his return. “There’s been quite a bit of turnover with the team, but I’ve got to know the people around the rink. The booster club members are all familiar faces.”
Before joining the Sharks, he kicked off the 2014-2015 season playing in 25 games for the Chicago Wolves, the Blues’ AHL affiliate.
“It was a little different. I was in Chicago the whole year, except for a really brief stint in St. Louis,” McCarthy said. “It was good to get out in the Western Conference to play some of those teams and see some of those cities.”
McCarthy has spent the bulk of his professional career in the San Jose organization, splitting time between Worcester and the Silicon Valley. He played 86 games in his career with San Jose but has spent the majority of his career playing in the American Hockey League.
“He can play any position. If someone’s slacking on the top line, you can put him up there,” said Sommer on how McCarthy will help the Sharks during the second half of the season. “You can put him on the bottom line if you need help. He’s a really good penalty killer."
McCarthy played his college hockey at Boston University, leading the team to the Hockey East and NCAA Championship titles during his senior year back in 2009. He’s thrilled to be back in the area.
“I grew up in Andover, and I live in Boston now,” said McCarthy, who was also born in Beantown. “It’s good that family and friends can come see me play, and it’s easier to keep in touch with everyone."
McCarthy is a bit sad about the recent announcement from the Sharks’ organization, who have opted to move the Worcester AHL affiliate to San Jose to be closer to the NHL squad.
“I have a lot of memories here, and it’s going to be hard on the fans too,” McCarthy said. “I don’t know if they’re getting another team. It’s pretty sad, but it’s also an exciting change.”
Even though it’s likely to be a short stay, McCarthy is enjoying his time back home in the Commonwealth.