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ValuLand Shoppers Welcome Former Detroit Red Wing Darren McCarty to Dearborn

The former NHL player signed autographs and met with fans at the Michigan Avenue store on Monday.

Former Red Wing Darren McCarty greets hockey fan Brandon Scroggins at the Dearborn ValuLand on Monday. Photo Credit: Daniel Lai.
Former Red Wing Darren McCarty greets hockey fan Brandon Scroggins at the Dearborn ValuLand on Monday. Photo Credit: Daniel Lai.
A sea of red and white snaked down the aisles of ValuLand in Dearborn on Monday as dozens of hockey fans waited patiently for a chance to meet former Detroit Red Wing Darren McCarty.

McCarty took photos, exchanged jokes, and signed autographs for fans during his two-hour visit to the store.

"I'm just tickled," Dearborn resident Alice Kowalski said after meeting McCarty for the first time.

"He is one of my favorites. I always liked when he was playing," Kowalski said. "I'm proud of him for overcoming a lot of his personal problems and emerging stronger and healthier. It's so nice that he is taking time out of his day to spend time with the fans."

Brandon Scroggins was one of the first customers to get in line to meet McCarty.

"He's one of my favorite hockey players," Scroggins said. "I've been in California for 10 years, but even when I was away from Michigan, I watched the Red Wings. I'm a huge hockey fan."

Scroggins said he's been trying to meet McCarty to see if the NHL star could verify the authenticity of an autographed jersey he received as a gift.

"It's cool that he's here in Dearborn," Scroggins said. "I've been falling him for a long time. To take time out and do stuff for your fans is pretty cool."

Sean Mason of Dearborn Heights said having the chance to meet one of his heroes was a dream come true.

"I still get goosebumps thinking about (Darren) McCarty's game-winning goal during game four of the Stanley Cup finals in 1997," Mason said.

For Bill Connolly, McCarty symbolizes the brute strength that helped drive the Red Wings to their back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1997 and 1998.

"His fight against Claude Lemieux during the '97 season stands out in my mind as one of the best moments in hockey history," he said. "Darren might not play for the team anymore, but he still bleeds red."

McCarty's visit was coordinated with ValuLand as a way to bring customers out to the new store, and promote its products.

"We wanted to create some excitement and show people what we're all about," store manager Ryan Wingett said. "The great part of all of this is seeing the people in line and all the excitement on kids' faces. It's pretty fun."

McCarty said he enjoys meeting with fans and fellow hockey players whenever his schedule permits.

"I like connecting with people. I'm a very outgoing person, and I like showing people that I appreciate everyone who supported me throughout my career," he said. "Spending a couple of minutes with someone to make their day is worth it to me. Paying back to the community is part of being an athlete and celebrity."

Former Detroit Tiger Dave Rozema will visit the Dearborn store to meet with fans on June 8 from 2 to 4 p.m.

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