This installment of Pucks Player Profile focuses in on Craig Darby. The Albany Academy standout whose team won the 1991 New York State Division I Championship finishing 27-0, had his jersey retired by the school this past Saturday. While playing for Albany Academy, Darby racked up 302 points during his four years. Darby also starred locally for the AHL Albany River Rats during the 2002-03 and 2003-04 campaigns where he amassed 44 goals, 99 assists for 143 points in 153 games for the top affiliate of the New Jersey Devils.
Upon being taken with the 43rd pick in the second round of the 1991 NHL draft by the Montreal Canadiens, Darby skated for two seasons at Providence College where he was co-rookie of the year in Hockey East, totaling 73 points in 70 games. His professional career began the same year as AHL hockey came to Albany in 1993, with the Fredericton Canadiens where he also spent two seasons, scoring 20 plus goals in each campaign. Darby was on the Fredericton team that lost to the Rats in the 1994-95 Calder Cup Finals but did not appear in the playoffs due to being traded a bit closer to home with the New York Islanders after having made his debut with the big club in Montreal.
Given the names of that trade, Darby along with Kirk Muller and Mathieu Schneider going from Montreal to New York for Pierre Turgeon and former Capital District Islander Vladimir Malakhov, it was clear that Craig was a highly regarded prospect.
However perhaps Darby’s most celebrated seasons came as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers organization. Everything seemed to come together during the 1997-98 season for Craig and the Philadelphia Phantoms. That year he amassed career highs for goals (42) and points (87) as the Phantoms took home their first ever Calder Cup trophy. He even got to celebrate in front of hometown fans along the way as the Phantoms clinched their Eastern Conference Final series in Albany, winning in six games over the River Rats. Darby had five goals and 14 points in 20 playoff games that year for Philadelphia.
After trying his luck for the then IHL Milwaukee Admirals the following year, Darby finally got a shot to stick in the NHL with the team that brought him to the dance, the Montreal Canadiens. From 1999-2002 Darby laced ’em up 156 times for the Habs and during the 2000-01 campaign set career NHL highs for goals (12) assists (16) and points (28) for the most storied franchise in NHL history.
Following that Darby made his way back home with the Albany River Rats for two successful seasons, also garnering a cup of coffee or two with five games in New Jersey with the Devils.
Winding down his career during and following the lockout Darby played for Springfield, Manitoba and for two years over in Europe before calling it a career after the 2007-08 season.
While his NHL career which saw him compile 21 goals, 35 assists, 56 points and 32 PIM in 196 games, Craig Darby was a solid pro and perennial 20 goal scorer and All-Star at the AHL level.
Pearl Street Pucks salutes Albany Academy standout Craig Darby on his achievements.