Darling finished with Hurricanes; a free agent signing gone wrong

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By all accounts, Scott Darling seems like a nice guy and his backstory is the kind of stuff that makes you pull a little harder for him to succeed. We’ll have to root for him elsewhere, because the Scott Darling experiment, barely 18 months old, is over in Raleigh.

Darling was waived Thursday by the Hurricanes, who decided, with the help of all empirical evidence, that they’re far better off taking their chances with Curtis McElhinney and Petr Mrazek in the net than Darling.

McElhinney has been found treasure, winning 7 of his 9 starts, including a total theft of 2 points the other night in Montreal. He’s been brilliant. The only question is how long he can keep it up. Mrazek is Mrazek. Adequate as a backup.

It was Darling that was supposed to be so much more. When the Canes signed him in May of 2017, he felt like a savior. I’ll happily count myself as one who thought he was the answer in net. Cam Ward’s time had long since run out and Darling seemed like the big breath of puck-stopping air the franchise and the fanbase needed.

Then came training camp. Darling showed up shockingly overweight. Still, his first few starts looked OK. Losses seemed much more the result of the deficiencies of those in front of him, rather than Darling’s shortcomings.

Eventually, though, the truth started to make itself known. In addition to letting in some shocking goals, Darling just never looked at ease in net and consequently, neither did his teammates. Any puck sent netward was potential disaster.

As big as he is, Darling seemed to shrink in the face of a shooter. His technique was bad, his physique was bad. Basically, it was bad all around.

Not surprisingly, it was another lost Canes season and Darling certainly deserved his share of the blame. To his credit, he seemed to take ownership of the situation, moving to Raleigh during the summer and putting more work into turning himself into the professional athlete he was supposed to be.

Everyone wanted it for him, but it was clear from the jump this season that whatever weight he had lost, supposed speed he had gained or new mindset he had attained, it just wasn’t manifesting itself on the ice. The injury certainly didn’t help but it only delayed the inevitable. Darling just isn’t good enough. The Canes made an obvious choice today in letting him go.

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