By Alexandra Evans
SAN JOSE—“When you play hockey for a living, obviously you need to treat it professionally, but also have fun with it, too,” John McCarthy, Captain of the San Jose Barracuda, remarked at practice on Tuesday morning.
McCarthy, 31, hails from just outside Boston. His father played hockey for College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and his older brother played up until high school. The siblings grew up playing hockey together, though John was the only one who went on to play at the college level (for Boston University) and, now, the professional leagues.
McCarthy grew up a Bruins fan, and he particularly looked up to Cam Neely, a Hockey Hall of Fame inductee. McCarthy did not know it at the time, but in his early 20s, he would be playing alongside a familiar face from watching television and live games at TD Garden: Joe Thornton.
“He was the guy when I was growing up with the Bruins,” McCarthy recalled, also noting that when he was first called up to the NHL eight years ago (2009-2010 season), he roomed with Thornton on his first road trip with the Sharks.
McCarthy attributes his professionalism in the AHL and NHL to his veteran teammates with whom he played his first few seasons in the big league (beginning in 2009-2010).
“[My older teammates] taught me how to approach the game. Come to the rink every day ready to work, get better every day,” he said.
Now, as the Barracuda captain and one of the team’s oldest players, McCarthy has become an influence for his younger teammates, guiding them as they work toward an NHL career.
“[Establishing an NHL career] is about not being overbearing… if [my younger teammates] want my insight on something, they can feel free to ask me. There’s plenty of situations where [questions] come up,” he stated. “In order for us to succeed, we have to outwork the other team. Our team has a completely different landscape than last year.”
McCarthy then referred to Barclay Goodrow, Ryan Carpenter, Kevin Labanc, Timo Meier, Tim Heed, and Joakim Ryan, all of whom were called up to the Sharks as regulars this season. Their call-ups impacted the Cuda as, McCarthy noted, they were all key players.
“Our game is more of a working game, more of a forechecking game, more of a ‘playing on the inside’ game. We can’t depend on the power play to get us wins like last year.”
Keeping this mentality through every game, McCarthy said, is one of the keys to success for both the Barracuda as a team and for each of the up-and-coming players individually.
Entering his third year as a Bay Area resident (during the season), McCarthy appreciates the snowless, seldom rainy Northern California weather, the cities surrounding San Jose (San Francisco, Santa Cruz, to name a few), and the staunch, passionate Sharks fans all around.