TRAVERSE CITY — To Jim and Sue McCarty, the Detroit Red Wings are more than just a hockey team.
"We love hockey," said Jim McCarty, as he waited outside Centre ICE for player autographs at the team's training camp opener Thursday. "But the Red Wings have gone way overboard for us personally. They've done a lot of very nice things for us and we're forever grateful."
The McCartys work hospice in the Bay City area. They often raise money, and spirits, for grief-stricken families. The Red Wings have helped immensely.
"We've had benefits and the Red Wings have always come through with something that we could use for silent auctions," McCarty said. "I had a friend pass away in March and (Wings GM) Ken Holland called me personally. He wanted me to meet him for one of the games. He wanted me to come up to his suite so he could hook me up with the stuff he was going to give me for the benefit. Unfortunately, it was Ash Wednesday, and my commitment was to be in church. Kenny still came through and sent the stuff express mail and we got it the next day.
"When a guy calls you up on your personal cell phone and says, 'This is Kenny,' it gets your attention."
That man who died was a dear friend of McCarty's. His family needed money to pay the bills.
"He had cancer for 15 years," McCarty said. "Just a super, super nice guy. He had done any number of things for other people, so it was fitting we did this. We served 1,200 spaghetti dinners (at the banquet). The Red Wings jersey, though, was the big hit."
A Pavel Datsyuk signed jersey netted close to $1,500 in the auction. The team supplied other items as well.