Commentary

Daniel Carcillo a strong addition

Blackhawks' new bruiser has terrific debut skating with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa

Updated: October 14, 2011, 1:54 AM ET
By Jon Greenberg | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane's on-ice interviews occasionally veer off-script.

After Tuesday's 4-3 comeback win over the Winnipeg Jets, Kane broke free from the stock Q&A with the local TV host to ask the remaining fans a question of his own:

"It was Danny's first game," Kane said, his voice raised with joy. "You guys like him out there tonight?"

They did. Kane knows how to get a rise out of the 20,000-plus puckheads who fill the arena for every game.

"Danny" is Daniel Carcillo, aka "Car Bomb," aka "The Missing Link."

Carcillo is the heir apparent to Blackhawks alums Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Troy Brouwer and Adam Burish -- bruisers that took the heat off the stars, and torched opponents during the 2010 Stanley Cup run.

[+] EnlargeDaniel Carcillo
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesDaniel Carcillo got off to a strong start in his first game as a Blackhawk on Thursday.

"Big Buff" especially was a folk hero around these parts, especially for his reputation around the net. The team missed his personality, among others', as it struggled to get into the playoffs during last season's everlasting hangover. Byfuglien and Ladd were in the house on Thursday playing for the Jets, who moved from Atlanta this season.

The 26-year-old Carcillo, with his missing teeth and thin, 1970s teenager mustache, is the public embodiment of the tough crowd general manager Stan Bowman imported this season to back up the talented core of hockey savants that survived the post-Cup bloodletting.

"[Carcillo] is the kind of player we missed," Kane said. "Hopefully he can keep it up."

Carcillo played his first real game in the indian head sweater Tuesday night -- he was suspended for the first two games for chirping at officials in the playoffs last season with Philadelphia -- and he didn't disappoint. He chirped, checked and moved the puck, playing on a line with Marian Hossa and Kane.

"That's my game, playing the body, getting fans into it early and getting our team into [it] early," he said, sans his front teeth.

He was even chirping during warm-ups.

"It's part of what I do, I guess," he said.

Maybe, I suggested, he was amped up from missing the first two games. What was it like to start the season on the bench? What do you think?

"It sucked," he said. "Obviously you don't want to watch. It was nice to get back out there, get a full week of practice with the guys, get somewhat familiar with my linemates, go out there and get a win. It feels really good."

Early in the game he walked away from a potential fight. A reporter asked if that was part of his game too, annoying someone up to a point and letting it simmer. Well, no.

"Usually I wouldn't walk away from that," he said. "But after a minute, 20 [seconds] on the ice, I'm not going to engage in that."

Smart. The Carcillo-Kane-Hossa line looks promising. Kane had a goal and two assists, and Hossa scored the tiebreaking goal in the second period. Kane's game-tying goal, which came after the Jets took a quick 2-0 lead, was a one-timer he struck so hard that he fell to the ice. The pass came off a cross-ice feed from Hossa that Carcillo started with a chip off the boards.

"My game is getting to the net and getting to those dirty areas and making good chips along those boards," he said. "You look at the goal, it just a good chip across the boards. You get it up to [Hossa] and he flips it across [to] Kane and it's that quick in the net."

Carcillo is coming off a down season with the Flyers. The best thing that happened to him was probably seeing his jersey on an episode of "Entourage" this summer. That makes him even more dangerous.

"I think he had a rough year last year so he has something to prove," Kane said. "He did his job tonight. He created some space, drew some penalties too. When he's not taking penalties and he's drawing them, he's going to bring some good things."

One of those things is space to work. The two talented scorers need room to operate.

"He likes to bang and get pucks back, but also when he comes on the ice, the other team's worried about him a little bit, where they're not worried about myself or Hossa as much," Kane said. "It opens up some space."

You might have noticed I used "chirp" a couple times. It's the buzzword du jour in Hawkeytown. It's one of those well-traveled locker room jargon that eventually catches on to the general populace until it gets really annoying. Like "walk-off home run."

"Chirp" reminds of another word I used to hate: "tweet." Maybe it's a bird thing. But eventually, as the word became part of our daily vernacular, I was forced to use it. Now it's part of my life.

I guess with Carcillo around, I'll have to get used to "chirp" too.

Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.

Jon Greenberg

Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com. He has lived and worked in Chicago since 2003, and is a graduate of Ohio University and the University of Chicago.