On Friday in San Antonio, Barracuda captain John McCarthy will skate in his 500th AHL game. 474 of those games have been played as a member of the Sharks organization. The most for any one player in Sharks affiliate history.
McCarthy learned a long time ago you can’t worry about the things you can’t control. Words to live by for a guy who’s spent a majority of his 10-year professional hockey career in the American Hockey League.
A seventh-round pick by San Jose in the 2006 NHL Draft, McCarthy’s draft slot did not guarantee any sort of career, let alone one that’s included 88 NHL games and 499 at the AHL level.
“When I got drafted, there was no guarantee so I figured I’d come to camp and just work hard and see what happens and that’s how I’ve approached it my entire career,” said McCarthy. “I found the second you start planning ahead, things go the opposite way.”
A 2009 National Champion at Boston University, McCarthy’s greatest attribute, his leadership, was apparent to the Sharks from the day they drafted him. The longest-tenured player under head coach Roy Sommer during Sommer’s 21-year-career, McCarthy has become the blueprint for what you want your captain to be at the AHL level.
“I don’t know what we would do without him, especially the last four years since we moved to San Jose,” said Sommer. “He’s been a huge part of our organization. When we’re going over video he always seems to be the highlight of it. He’s so detailed and professional in everything he does.”
McCarthy’s detail-oriented game, leadership, and compete made him a valuable addition for Sharks alumni and USA Hockey Head Coach Tony Granato when he selected him as a member of the Men’s Ice Hockey Team that competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
“My role has changed as my career has progressed,” said McCarthy. “I began as a prospect and an up and down guy. But now I’m mostly just a minor league guy that works with the younger players. It’s different but I’m still enjoying coming to the rink every day.”
In 2014-15, McCarthy signed with the Blues as a free agent where he skated in just 25 games with the Chicago Wolves, then Blues AHL affiliate, before the Sharks re-acquired via trade.
The rest, as they say, is history. McCarthy served as an assistant captain in 2015-16 before taking over the captaincy three years ago and is San Jose’s all-time leader in games played (198) and goals (46).
Guiding one of the AHL's youngest rosters to a franchise-best 5-1-0-1 start, McCarthy's leadership goes far beyond the rink. His involvement in the community has helped grow the Barracuda brand as much as his play on the ice.
"He's the type of guy you'd want your daughter to marry," said Sommer. "I constantly get his opinion on things because he sees the game so well and is always so prepared."