I like underdogs. Of course that goes without saying because I'm a Sabres/Bills/Cubs fan. Yet what I really enjoy are the players that are considered underdogs. Undrafted free agents, burned out veterans, and journeymen have always found a place in my heart. Call me cheesy, but I love seeing a good comeback story, or hearing about some kid from a Division III college making it in the NFL. I love former and current Bills players like Jim Leonhard, Fred Jackson, and David Nelson who had to work hard just to get noticed after going undrafted. I love the small teams in NASCAR like Front Row and TBR that have to dig for sponsors each week just to run a full race. And I love that post-lockout Darcy has found several "diamonds in the rough" that have saved their careers and in some cases helped the franchise. Not every veteran panned out well (i.e. Joe DiPenta, Nolan Pratt), but there are a handful that stick out.
I put together a short list of the players that nobody wanted who were given another chance with the organization. Darcy obviously saw something in all of them, and these guys turned their opportunity into positive play. First up:
GP: 190 Goals: 9 Assists: 21 Points: 30 Average Time On Ice : 8:37 Plus/Minus: -2
I should also add that he was a career -26 in the AHL. I found some solid fights and decent hits on youtube, but overall it was a meh signing to add veteran leadership in Portland. And that is where he stayed during the regular season, scoring 17 goals in 66 games and racking up a massive 168 penalty minutes without a single call up to the NHL. Fellow veterans Matt Ellis and Mark Mancari, as well as youngsters Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe all got offensive call-ups while Cody stayed back in Portland. With Adam Mair on the roster, there was no real need for another gritty forward and who would drop the gloves.
But when injury struck the Sabres before/during the playoffs (as it always seems to), McCormick got the NHL call and then proceeded to make fans wonder why the hell the Sabres hadn't made the move earlier in the season. He was arguably the hardest working player on the ice for the Bruins series; digging for pucks, agitating the opponent, and lowering the boom when everyone else was afraid to hit. In his three game call-up, he logged over 10 minutes of ATOI and 16 PIM, adding two assists as well as the admiration of the fans and the attention of management. Those three games earned him a one year, one-way deal with the club a few months later, which he turned into his best NHL season yet and has solidified himself as a solid 4th line forward and team leader. In one full season McCormick scored 3/5 of his total career points and established himself as maybe the strongest forechecker on the team. Right when nobody wanted Cody, Darcy somehow found him, gave him a chance and he has parlayed it into a new 3 year deal worth 3.6 million dollars. Not bad for a guy that the average fan didn't know existed until April 2010. Now he is the heart of a serious contender.
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