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Flames' Darren McCarty Files For Bankruptcy

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Amazing - No matter how much money you make people always seem to find a way to get into financial trouble.


McCarty files for bankruptcy

Lawyer cites lockout and release from Red Wings; $6.2 million in debts includes money owed to banks, casinos.

Darren McCarty, whose rugged play as a Red Wing, charitable fund-raising and heavy-metal musicianship made him one of the most popular professional athletes in recent Detroit history, has filed for bankruptcy.

In documents submitted to U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Detroit, McCarty, 34, lists assets of $1.9 million and debts of $6.2 million -- including at least $185,000 to casinos in Detroit and Las Vegas.

He also listed debts to banks, credit-card companies, friends, utilities, law firms, a roofing company and the Oakland County Drain Commission.

Many of his assets are tied up in insurance polices, his NHL pension and $490,000 in business loans he made that his court filings say are unlikely to be repaid.

Nothing indicates McCarty's troubles are tied to the McCarty Cancer Foundation, the Oakland County-based charity he and his family founded in honor of his father, Craig, who died from multiple myeloma in 1999. The foundation, for which McCarty serves as an unpaid director, has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years.

Marty Fried, McCarty's Southfield lawyer, blamed the bankruptcy on last season's NHL lockout, a divorce that finalized in February 2005 and a substantially smaller contract with the Calgary Flames.

"He's not making the money he used to make," Fried said. He said McCarty made about $2.1 million per season in Detroit and now makes about $850,000. "I don't think he counted on being" released from the Wings last summer.

Fried said he believed McCarty's problems are strictly financial, and not suggestive of personal issues that have troubled him in the past. McCarty talked frankly during his Detroit days of being a recovering alcoholic. "It's just a matter of getting his expenses in sync with his income and he'll be fine," Fried said.

McCarty, who signed with the Flames after the Red Wings bought out his contract, could not be reached for comment.

The largest creditors listed in the bankruptcy case, filed in November, are DMA Holdings of Portage, owed $2 million, and Huntington National Bank of Bloomfield Hills, due $1.5 million.

McCarty, who has talked publicly about his love for poker, lists debts of $100,000 to the Bellagio casino and $60,000 to the Palms casino, both in Las Vegas. He owes $25,000 to the MotorCity Casino in Detroit, court papers say.

Gambling has become a sensitive topic for the National Hockey League. In February, New Jersey authorities announced that they were investigating allegations that an assistant of Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky ran a high-stakes betting ring.

NHL spokesman Frank Brown declined comment Tuesday. Officials for the Flames did not return calls. McCarty had seven goals and six assists in 64 games this season entering Tuesday's game.

Fried said he understood the casino money involved gambling debts, but he said he did not know any details. McCarty was quoted as saying in the Calgary Sun in January that he loves poker and would like to play someday in the World Series of Poker.

"Poker is a game that helps you get tougher mentally," he told the paper as he prepared to play in a poker tournament at a Calgary casino.

Among his assets, McCarty listed $5,600 in jewelry, two Harley-Davidson motorcycles worth $16,000, and $500 in golf clubs. He also has a home in Farmington Hills valued at $591,780, but court papers say his mortgage was $670,000 and he has failed to pay real estate taxes on the home.

Without providing details, the court papers also said a 2004 Cadillac Escalade owned by McCarty "sunk in a body of water" in January 2004 and that a Dutch Star motor home was destroyed by fire on an unspecified date.

McCarty listed his income as $2.1 million in 2003, $1.5 million in 2004 and $193,959 in 2005. A lockout of NHL players canceled the 2004-2005 season.

According to court documents, McCarty received $538,729 from the Red Wings when they bought out his contract in July, but 75% of that -- $404,046 -- went to his ex-wife, Cheryl McCarty.

McCarty filed under Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules, which means a trustee is appointed to take over his property and will sell it off to pay creditors. According to bankruptcy court regulations, McCarty might be able to keep some personal items and possibly some real estate, depending on state law.

One of McCarty's creditors is John Andrews, whose lawyer and nephew, Frank Andrews, said McCarty and a partner, John Matouk, purchased 28 acres for a development near Hartland and didn't pay for all of it. The $649,400 is the balance of that debt, plus interest.

Matouk, president and CEO of Berkley-based Remtech Companies, is another creditor. He is owed $234,288, court documents say.

Matouk, who said he is a landlord for area businesses, including Detroit Newspapers, the partnership that oversees business operations for the Detroit Free Press, described the debt Tuesday as personal loans McCarty accumulated during the past 10 years.

"What did he use it for? I can't answer that because I don't know, and I didn't ask," said Matouk, who added that he knew nothing about McCarty's gambling. "I don't get into his personal business."

Matouk said he believed the divorce and lockout were hard on his friend after he had such a stellar career as a Wing.

With a gap-toothed grin and an on-ice swagger, McCarty quickly became a fan favorite in Detroit, where he played 11 seasons. It didn't hurt that he grew up across the river in Leamington, Ontario, or that he threw pucks to kids after the Wings' pregame skates.

McCarty described himself as "an adrenaline junkie." He was the Wing who pummeled Claude Lemieux of the Colorado Avalanche in 1997 in retaliation for a hit that shattered teammate Kris Draper's face in the previous season's playoffs. McCarty also scored the winning goal in the clinching game in 1997 as the Wings won their first Stanley Cup in 42 years.

Off the ice, he met thousands of fans as the lead singer for Grinder, a band whose hard-driving sound was just how many metro Detroiters like their music. And his public admissions of alcoholism endeared him to many who could identify with his personal struggles.

Even though bankruptcy could wipe out McCarty's debt, Matouk said he was confident he'd see the money some day because McCarty has lent him money, too.

"I will always be a friend of his, whether he's bankrupt or not," Matouk said. "I will patiently wait for him to pay me back. I'm not worried about it."

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