Chicago Blackhawks: Dan Carcillo
17-4: One bookmaker’s odds for the Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup as of Monday. The Pittsburgh Penguins have the second-best odds at 15-2.
6: Number of teams from the 1995 lockout season the Blackhawks have already surpassed with 41 points.
Read the entire story.
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Dan Carcillo said Tuesday he’s more than ready to start playing again, nearly a year after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery.
Carcillo tore the ACL in his left knee while making an illegal hit in a game against the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 2, 2012. He was suspended seven games for the hit on the Oilers’ Tom Gilbert. He had season-ending surgery on Jan. 17.
"It's been a long year,” said Carcillo, who joined other Blackhawks in an informal practice at Johnny’s IceHouse West on Tuesday. “But yeah, I'm definitely excited to get started. These next two weeks aren't going to be that much fun, but after that I'll probably be the most excited guy in that room.”
* Patrick Kane and Andrew Ladd each had a hat trick. Kane scored four goals including the game-tying tally with minutes to go.
* Dan Carcillo won the game with a shootout goal. A slow-down move that Kane said Carcillo stole from him.
* There were several excessive goal celebrations including Jonathan Toews knocking down his teammates pretending to bowl, a Troy Brouwer led ‘kayak’ celebration with several players rowing a boat and Carcillo’s sliding, horse riding performance after his winner.
* Celebrity coaches Ryan Dempster and Robbie Gould were “jawing” at each other from the benches all night. After a Kane goal, Gould threw a ‘red flag’ to challenge the score. The goal was upheld.
* The highlight of the night happened when Carcillo (playing for team World) jumped the Chicago bench, attacking Dempster. Dempster’s colorful sport coat got ripped off and the two continued the “fight” moments later on the other bench.
* After the game, Patrick Sharp said he could recognize fans in the crowd who usually inhabit the United Center for Blackhawks games.
“It was fun playing with these two (Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp) guys again,” Blackhawks star Patrick Kane said after his team lost 16-15 Friday night in the ‘Champs for Charity’ game at Allstate Arena. “Johnny and Sharpie -- it feels like forever since we’ve been back on the ice. A lot of memories, a lot of good times and always fun scoring goals.”
NHL players from around the country and those working out in Chicago played in the charity event which raised over $320,000 for the Ronald McDonald House of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana. Kane won MVP honors with a four-goal effort and there were plenty of laughs along the way. It provided a brief respite from the problems facing the league -- which canceled all November games earlier in the day.
“They’re going to keep exercising the power that they have to lock us out and try to use the fact that they can cancel games to try and sway us their way,” Toews said before he took the ice Friday.
Union boss Donald Fehr attended but wanted to keep a low profile. The idea of an exhibition game for charity -- full of entertaining antics -- along with some competitive hockey contrasts with the dour feeling that the six week old lockout emotes. But for one night, over 11,000 hockey fans embraced the idea of a game -- even if it's just for fun -- with some their favorite players.
“The atmosphere was awesome,” Kane said. “To get 11,000 fans for something like this was pretty special. It shows how many people are searching for hockey.”
And, again, that includes the players. No matter the meaning of the game, their competitive nature takes over.
“We obviously love to play together, the three of us,” Toews said of he, Sharp and Kane. “You saw sometimes tonight we were moving the puck well and making some plays. I think just getting that feel back makes you want to get back out there.”
And when Chicago was down a goal with minutes remaining: “We said we’re not coming off the ice until we score,” Kane explained.
They did, and eventually the night ended in a shootout with Dan Carcillo scoring the winning goal and celebrating it in an excessive manner. It was one of many entertaining moments which celebrity coaches Ryan Dempster and Robbie Gould also helped provide. And those on the ice know where the energy in the building came from.
“I think you saw the pace was pretty good right off the start,” Toews said. “It just goes to show you we have some great hockey fans here in Chicago.”
That’s not in dispute. How long they remain great fans might be. The Hawks might have a large leash of goodwill with their fan base but the league certainly does not. And the longer the lockout goes on, the less good-feel charity games like Friday night will have an impact.
“It’s almost to the point where you kind of believe they are excited to do this just because they’re the NHL,” Toews said of the league canceling more games.
So for now a glorified all-star game will have to do. Luckily, the performance by those involved as well as the money raised made the night a successful one. But it still isn’t what everyone wants.
“It’s hitting me now, it’s my last night in Chicago,” Kane said as prepared to leave for Switzerland to play during the lockout. “It will be exciting when I come back and play with the Hawks again.”
When that is, is anyone’s guess.
DETROIT -- Call it strange irony that the announcement Blackhawks forward Dan Carcillo -- No. 13 -- would undergo knee surgery came on Friday, the 13th.
That unlucky number came to fruition for the controversial winger as it could be the last we see of Carcillo in a Hawks’ uniform. He faces a six month recovery time and his contract runs for only this season.
So how will he be remembered? Joel Quenneville had almost nothing but positive things to say about him.
“I thought he had a good year for us,” Quenneville said before his team took on the Detroit Red Wings Saturday. “I thought he did a lot of good things. Gave us a presence, fulfilled a need or a niche for us. He provided some emotion, some toughness. We liked how he played offensively, he complimented some nice players. He did what he had to do.”
The lasting memory for most fans will be the hit that ended his season and potentially his short career as a Hawk. He was suspended for seven games for boarding Edmonton’s Tom Gilbert on Jan. 2 while blowing out his knee at the same time. It was one costly hit.
But in reality his lasting memory should include that entire game. The Hawks were leading 1-0 when Carcillo shoved Gilbert into the end boards. They were leading because Carcillo, playing on the Hawks' top line, stole a puck in the neutral zone and set up Jonathan Toews for a score. It was a big league move and Quenneville’s comments about his offensive game ring true.
“He knows his leash is extremely short,” Quenneville said. “He had a couple there right on that line. He’s got to know when to push.”
The couple on the line got him suspended for a total of nine games this season, plus he served two more to begin the year leftover from last postseason. Twenty-eight games played, 11 suspended and now injured for the rest of the year. Not exactly a season to place in the career time capsule of one Dan Carcillo.
As much as people want to come down on him, the hit that ended his year wasn’t as evil as it could have been. Many in the game called it a “hockey play” that simply ended poorly. Fine, give Carcillo the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he’s not a dirty player in the truest sense but he can be reckless. At the end of the day, is there a difference when the result turns out as poorly as it did?
There was much confusion over Carcillo’s ability to serve out his seven-game suspension while clearly being hurt. As it turns out, if a player is not on injured reserve it’s legal for him to serve a suspension even if he couldn’t play anyway. The penalty to the team is it can’t replace his roster spot. That’s why Carcillo has been on the “active” roster during his suspension. Once the suspension is over -- after Sunday’s contest against San Jose -- he’ll be placed on injured reserve and the Hawks will have an open roster spot to fill, if they choose.
That's one costly hit.
After talking with hockey people around the league on Tuesday, the consensus is Carcillo will get 4-6 games for the blow. No more.
Here is the bottom line: the hit was reckless but we've seen worse. He didn't target the head nor "purposely" ram Gilbert's head into the boards. Carcillo's history will play a part in the punishment but Gilbert's injuries don't appear severe so that will help his cause.
Joel Quenneville was asked on Tuesday what Carcillo could have done differently.
"It's a quick moment when you're going for a counter hit fighting for a puck," he said after practice. "He [Carcillo] probably had better leverage than the other guy. His intent certainly wasn't what happened."
It's not a cut and dry play. In fact, it's not necessarily boarding. Yes, Gilbert went flying into the boards but the players were not up against them or within inches of them as in normal boarding calls. It may have been closer to interference. And Gilbert admitted Tuesday he saw Carcillo coming.
"I should have been more ready for a guy who has made those kinds of hits before," Gilbert told reporters in Buffalo where Edmonton plays Tuesday night.
So there is enough gray area to at least believe the league won't necessarily throw the book at the controversial forward. But the big question still remains, why would Carcillo even take a chance with a questionable hit?
He had just returned from an injury, was playing on the top line and playing decent enough. In fact, he had a beautiful steal and assist on the Hawks' first goal, and in his first game back on Friday, he showed immediate chemistry with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.
Monday's game was sailing along fine for the home team. The Hawks were leading 1-0 -- thanks in part to Carcillo -- and Edmonton was doing nothing on offense, plus the Oilers had just lost star rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to an injury. On top of it, the Hawks were 14-0-1 when scoring first this season while the Oilers were 3-13 when getting down 1-0 this year. The game did not call for a borderline hit. Carcillo must know this.
He hasn't spoken since leaving with a knee injury and a game misconduct, but what could have been going through his mind?
"I think he's been fine," Quenneville said of Carcillo's season. "I think he gives us a nice look. You appreciate what he brings, his intensity. He's got some skill to complement his aggressiveness, but at the same time we still want him to play with energy. I think he has some track record that doesn't help. His leash is definitely a lot shorter than most or every player in the league. It's tough finding that right balance. From our perspective he's doing everything we want."
If everyone knows the leash is tight, why even risk it? Why does a player on a 24-10-4 team, who has been inserted onto the top line after sitting for six games take a chance like Carcillo did? He will undoubtedly try to explain the hit away but explanations aren't necessary if the proverbial line isn't approached. If Carcillo simply tries to get around Gilbert and get to the puck, the Hawks probably win the game and he's not injured.
"We want to keep a guy like that in the lineup and it's tough to lose him so quickly," Toews said. "He's an effective player for us. It's no fun when that happens."
Toews almost said that like it was out of everyone's control. It wasn't. One guy could have helped avoid a bad situation but Carcillo chose the tough route and now has to pay the price.
That's one costly hit.
Carcillo, playing his second consecutive game with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, made a beautiful steal and setup of a Toews goal to open the scoring in the first period. But in the second, he was kicked out for boarding and the Oilers scored twice on the ensuing five-minute power play. It changed the game.
“They get two goals off it,” coach Joel Quenneville said afterward. “It’s still 2-2 there. I wasn’t crazy about the third one we gave up.”
The Hawks steadily played worse, giving up that third goal with their third defense pair on the ice. Later, Corey Crawford allowed a soft Ben Eager score to be the eventual game-winner. But no one knows how the night ends if not for Carcillo’s hit.
“We don’t want to take anything away from his game,” Jamal Mayers said. “He plays a nasty game, he plays a hard game. Things like that are going happen. Quite frankly it’s a questionable call as well. He was finishing his check.”
It’s probably not the way the league will see it. As Carcillo and Gilbert were chasing down a dump-in, Carcillo went for contact instead of playing the puck. He extended his arms and sent the defenseman flying into the boards. Both players left the game with apparent knee injuries. Quenneville said he wasn’t going to “argue the call,” though he tried to soften the blow somewhat.
“It wasn’t even a hit,” he said. “It was a counter hit.”
Technically, Quenneville might be right. But the league will undoubtedly look at slow-motion replays as well as Carcillo’s history. With that, it probably will be determined he could have played the puck, instead of the man who was in a vulnerable position near the boards.
Oilers coach Tom Renney expects action from the league.
“I think the hit speaks for itself, and the penalty does as well,” Renney said. “I think at least to this point it’s been addressed and I’m hoping that it’ll be looked into even further.”
Though Carcillo will face supplemental discipline as well as the wrath of Hawks’ fans, the hit isn’t on par with others that have caused some bad head injuries. Gilbert hurt his knee and only after hitting the boards, not from the actual hit itself. There is a distinction. A direct head shot, for example, is more cut and dry with league officials. Plus, Gilbert wasn’t up against the boards where a direct hit from behind is an obvious violation and possibly an intent to injure. Gilbert will miss Tuesday’s game in Buffalo but the injury isn’t considered serious. That will help Carcillo’s cause.
Either way, when it comes to the controversial Hawks’ forward, defending his actions is a risky proposition. It’s unclear if he’ll be out due to injury or suspension but one thing is known: his illegal hit helped cost the Hawks a potential win.
CHICAGO -- Revenge is a dish best served cold -- as in ice-cold.
The Chicago Blackhawks will get a chance at it on Monday night when they host the Edmonton Oilers, this time on the United Center surface.
The teams aren’t near in each other in the standings right now, as the Blackhawks lead the NHL with 52 points and the Oilers are at the bottom of the Northwest Division with just 33. But back on Nov. 19, when they met in Edmonton, the Hawks were still finding their way while the Oilers were off to a pretty good start. The result for the Hawks? A 9-2 drubbing in Game 3 of the circus trip.
“I don’t know about revenge, but kind of redemption,” defenseman John Scott said after Monday morning’s practice. “They took it to us last time we were there. We talked about it. That wasn’t our team when we played them a month ago. We’ve changed since then and kind of have gone on a rise since then.”
“I’m going to try and not do too much out there,” Lepisto said. “Just think defense first and if something happens, it happens.”
Lepisto has been a healthy scratch for the past eight games.
“Sitting in first place the team is doing good, but of course you get frustrated,” he said of not playing. “Every player wants to play rather than sit and eat popcorn. It’s a long season and hopefully I get to play more.”
Lepisto didn’t play against Edmonton last time, but Jamal Mayers did.
“We certainly should use it as motivation,” Mayers said. “Obviously they took it to us in every facet of the game. We have a chance to redeem ourselves tonight.”
The Hawks should have a good chance to do so. They’re 14-3-3 at home while Edmonton is just 5-13-1 on the road. One of those losses came in Chicago, 6-3, on Nov. 13.
Lines the same: Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville liked the balance in his lines in Friday’s 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings and will stick with the same trios for Monday’s contest. Marcus Kruger did not skate Monday morning as he recovers from a concussion, so Patrick Kane remains at center between Viktor Stalberg and Patrick Sharp while Jonathan Toews has Marian Hossa and Dan Carcillo next to him. The latter trio was the Hawks’ best line against the Wings.
“We had a good game, played well,” Carcillo said. “They’re two of the best players in the league. I have to keep my game simple and work hard to get them the puck.”
Big Jimmy Hayes will dress for his second game in the NHL, skating with Mayers and Andrew Brunette again.
“The game is really fast,” Hayes said of his first impressions. “I’m just trying to keep my feet moving and make some plays. [The coaches] just said to be physical.”
Dave Bolland, Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik make up the Hawks third line for Monday’s game, in which Corey Crawford takes on Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk.
Carcillo vs. Bertuzzi: After missing six games with a head injury, Carcillo had no issues with Detroit’s Todd Bertuzzi asking him to fight Friday night, although he doesn’t necessarily agree with Bertuzzi’s reasoning. The two dropped the gloves after Carcillo hit Bertuzzi with a clean, but hard check, in the first period.
“You see a lot of that,” Carcillo said Monday. “Guys get hit clean and then a team reacts or they want to start fights. But I don’t think that’s the way to solve a clean hit. You get up and dust yourself off and take a run at someone else. I think he saw who it was and he wants to show his bench he’s ready and I’m ready. I still think it was the right time for a fight.”
Although the instigator rule is called inconsistently throughout the league, Carcillo had no issues with Bertuzzi only getting five minutes for fighting.
“He looked at me and we both agreed to it,” he said.
Bickell was given an instigating penalty in a similar situation against the Calgary Flames earlier in the season. It’s more evidence the instigator rule needs to be altered or eliminated altogether.
Signings: The Hawks signed their two first-round picks from the 2011 draft to entry-level contracts. Forwards Mark McNeill and Phillip Danault, both 18, were inked to three-year deals. They’ll continue to play for their junior clubs and their contracts won’t kick in until they come to the Hawks organization.
Quotable: “It was a crazy New Year. We ordered food in and I think I had one beer. We were asleep by 12:15, so it was nuts.” -- Scott on his New Year’s Eve spent with his wife and week-old baby daughter.
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Chicago Blackhawks held a Thanksgiving Day practice in Anaheim before enjoying a team meal at their hotel. With only two games remaining on their circus trip the best they can accomplish is a .500 record, but at least they know they can play better in their own end when they want to.
Quenneville called Wednesday’s effort in the 1-0 loss to San Jose “as good as we’ve played all year defensively.”
The Hawks need more of that kind of play in their own zone and if not for a hot night by Antti Niemi, they probably would have scored some goals. A similar effort in the final two games of the trip should net them some points in the standings.
The one change in the lineup at practice on Thursday saw Dan Carcillo running drills on the fourth line while Michael Frolik lined up next to Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp on the Hawks' second line.
“That could go right back,” Joel Quenneville explained of the move. “Whether it’s a practice or it’s in-game, I think he has that versatility.”
For his part, Carcillo isn’t thrilled with his own play.
“I’m not happy,” he said after practice Thursday. “Obviously I haven’t been contributing the last couple games. It would be nice to help the team and get some scoring from different areas but it’s been a tough stretch.”
Carcillo doesn’t have a point on the road trip, registering just three shots in four games.
“I need to play a certain way to be effective,” he said. “I’ve gotten a little bit away from that. I’ll try to get it back in the next few games.”
Bad ice: More and more players on the Hawks and around the league are complaining that NHL ice surfaces aren’t the best for playing hockey. The United Center is widely known as a poor ice surface but it’s not alone.
“The best ices are out here,” Patrick Kane said pointing at the Ducks practice facility Thursday. “The practice rink in Columbus [is good]. It’s funny how that happens. You kind of get used to it I guess. It seems like there are lot of bounces and different things that can go either way. As a player on the ice you have to just be aware for anything to happen.”
Niklas Hjalmarsson echoed those comments one night earlier in San Jose.
“I guess we’re getting used to it,” he said. “I don’t think the ice is too good at any rinks right now. I think the ice is pretty much bad everywhere nowadays. I don’t know why.”
The Blackhawks returned from a father-son weekend in Florida looking as if they fell asleep by the pool without sunscreen. Though they were 1-1 in the Sunshine State, they looked infinitely better than they did in the listless 6-2 loss sustained at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks upon their return home Sunday night.
Read the entire column.
After giving up five power-play goals against, which ties a a franchise record according to Elias Sports Bureau, in a lopsided 6-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night, most will focus on that historic achievement. But it was a fluke.
The Hawks have been great on the penalty kill this year, so it gets a pass when it has one bad night -- even this bad. But the Hawks could have kept themselves in the game if they had cashed in one of their five attempts on the power play. They didn’t, and now they’ve dropped below a 10 percent conversion rate through the first 14 games. That’s awful.
On Sunday, the power play looked as bad as it has all season but the Hawks continue to put on a good face about it. There’s no anger, maybe just some frustration.
“I think we were good in the game in Tampa,” Jonathan Toews said. “I think tonight the power play isn’t in relation to the cold streak we’ve had lately. It just went with our weak game that we had tonight. It was just a team effort that was poor and the power play went along with it.”
When the Hawks point to the Tampa Bay game, they’re referring to scoring once in two tries to break a five game scoreless streak. It didn’t exactly open the floodgates.
“Power play, we had some chances around the net, theirs were being cashed in,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “I thought we weren’t terrible, but I’m looking for production at the end of the night.”
So is everyone. At just 5-for-53 on the season, that production isn’t coming. The Canucks matched that number in one game on Sunday, embarrassing both Hawks special teams at once.
Quenneville has tried almost everything and seems as confused as ever when it comes to personnel. Daniel Carcillo saw time (3:26) with the man-advantage, but former two-time 20-goal scorer Michael Frolik did not. Carcillo has scored 20 over the last three seasons combined, with his 20th coming last Friday. Bryan Bickell spent 20 seconds on the power play Sunday after scoring 17 goals last season, while Quenneville left his top unit from a year ago intact early in the game after just breaking them up recently.
Nothing is working.
The power play is a problem -- a big one -- and the sooner the Hawks admit it to themselves, and the world, the sooner they might be able to fix it.