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.