Alright, so for those that may not yet be aware, I leave Friday afternoon for Hockeytown, USA — known to most others as Detroit, MI. It has become an annual occurrence that I see my (admittedly mediocre) Detroit Red Wings play a game at home — at the decrepit yet adored Joe Louis Arena. Regardless of the current NHL Eastern Conference standings or the city of Detroit, I have chosen to take advantage of this week’s Throwback and link two of my favorite things: metal (or I guess hard rock in this case) and hockey. And by hockey I mean the Red Wings. You see, one of my favorite players of all time, and one of the game’s most popular enforcers, was one Darren McCarty. He was generally a badass in all aspects of life. And when he wasn’t beating the shit out of Claude “Turtle” Lemioux, he was actually working on his band… a little outfit called Grinder.
Think what you want about Grinder’s music, as far as I’m concerned it’s take it or leave it rock with a bit of an edge. And as far as I’m aware, only the single LP (shown above) was ever released. While the band became fairly popular in the midwest in the late 90’s, playing a number of festivals and clubs during the summers away from hockey, it is actually more the story behind the band that is the most notable.
Fronted by the aforementioned Darren McCarty on vocals, Grinder is of course named after Detroit’s “Grind Line” during the McCarty years. Basically… a production line with modest technical ability, but enough tenacity generate goals through a strong fore-check and general blue collar style. They also fought people. A lot. So there’s that — hockey stuff. But what really needs to be known is that Grinder was formed as a means of helping teammate Vladimir Konstantinov and the team’s masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov after they were both paralyzed in a limousine accident in 1997. I remember when that happened as a young hockey fan, and then seeing one of my favorite players honor them in such a creative and unique way was really freaking cool. So yeah, the crossroads of rock, hockey, and the city of Detroit. All cool by me as I prepare for this weekend. You can check out some stuff from Gotta Keep Movin below.
But as I’m sitting here reflecting on Darren McCarty’s career, I remember a time when hockey was more intense, rivalries more genuine, and attitudes more apparent. I also remember a time when the Detroit Red Wings were annual Stanley Cup contenders instead of a team struggling to make the playoffs year after year. Alas. I will always love them anyway. So on that note, let’s wrap up with 15 minutes that showcase how intense the fiercest hockey rivalry of the late 90’s actually was. Enjoy.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”