NHL player gives homeless man a helping hand

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TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 15: Goalie Scott Darling #33 of the Chicago Blackhawks prepares prior to a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on January 15, 2016 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling helped a homeless man get back on his feet by paying for a hotel room for the man for a month. Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Chicago Blackhawks goalie has plenty of adoring fans, but he gained one more in a very special way.

Scott Darling met a homeless man in Scottsdale on Feb. 3 when his team was in town to take on the Arizona Coyotes. After talking to the man for a while, Darling ended up paying for him to stay in a hotel for a month.

“I just started talking to him, was interested in his life, seemed like a good guy and just needed a helping hand,” Darling told the Chicago Tribune. “I had no idea how anyone even found out about that.”

The story would have gone unnoticed except it just happened to pass along through word-of-mouth from an Uber driver to a player in an amateur hockey league, who tweeted it.

Darling has good reason to have a soft spot for people in need of help. He has spoken publicly about his own struggle with alcoholism, which got him kicked off his college hockey team. He was able to recover and earn his place in the NHL, last year becoming the first Chicago-native to win a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks.

“I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for that situation — people battling stuff that other people don’t understand,” Darling said. “He seemed like a really nice person. I’m in the position to help somebody like that. I’m happy to do it.”