For the most part, everyone seemed to be enjoying what the Blackhawks were doing on the first day of NHL free agency. Their moves weren’t flashy, but they didn’t have to be. The team needed depth, and fans seemed more than happy with the likes of Andrew Brunette set to join the team for next season.
Than that great big curveball came in the late afternoon, just when everyone thought that agents and general managers had called it a day.
That curveball’s name was Daniel Carcillo. You might know him better as the guy who thrashed his own teammate, Jeff Carter, when the Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2010 Stanley Cup finals. Carcillo didn’t play much in the series, but was known for his spat with Tomas Kopecky, leading to a missed check and a derailment of Carter.
It’s not as if Carcillo was actually known as a nice guy before that series anyway. He’s certainly one of the NHL’s noted goons, and it’s been that way since his days when he played for the Coyotes, which was the same story with the Flyers.
Let’s get these numbers out of the way, as the moans and groans are sure to be at a premium over anything involving Carcillo in a Hawks sweater. It’s probably safe to say that we can throw anything Carcillo has done offensively out the window. There’s not exactly a huge sample space to work with there, and he surely wasn’t brought in for his offensive skill.
Carcillo is a goon. That’s putting it lightly. He looks like Joakim Noah in a smaller frame, and he hits like Raffi Torres, which doesn’t exactly mean those hits are always legal. In fact, too much of the time, they are not. In just 57 games last season, he accrued 127 penalty minutes. That doesn’t even come close to touching his career high.
With Phoenix, in the 2007-08 season, Carcillo racked up 324. 324 penalty minutes, for a Hawks team that was extremely inconsistent on the penalty kill last year. And that was in the same amount of games as he played last year (57). There’s also that 207 penalty minute season he had in ’09-’10, for the Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia Flyers.
It’s not hard to see why many are so quick to criticize the pickup by Stan Bowman. Heck, just hearing his name would make Blackhawks fans cringe, especially the way the team has dealt with the likes of goons like Carcillo, Torres, etc, over the past couple of seasons.
But is there any way Dan Carcillo could actually benefit his new squad? The quick answer would be “by not being on the team at all”. However, that seems rather unlikely now, even though he is signed for cheap and shouldn’t be hard to get rid of at some point, for a team looking for a goon.
For now, the Blackhawks are stuck with him. So now Joel Quenneville is faced with the daunting task of trying to turn Carcillo into a positive for his team, rather than the trainwreck that has the potential to take place with the Hawks this season.
Much of what happens with Carcillo is going to fall on the leadership of this Hawks team. From Quenneville, to Jonathan Toews, to new guys like Sean O’Donnell, Carcillo is going to have to be held in check and on a short leash both on the ice and in the clubhouse.
If they can help limit his “boneheadedness”, there is a possibility Carcillo could be an asset to the Hawks on the bottom lines. He knows how to get in the head of the opponent. He’s obviously got the physical chops to keep up with anybody in the game, no matter their size. And of course, there’s that whole thing about him “protecting” Patrick Kane and other teammates.
The point I’m struggling so hard to make here is that there is somewhat of a possibility that Carcillo could help the Hawks. Whether it’s doing what John Scott did mentally to the Canucks in the postseason or just putting the hurt on the opponent, hopefully more legally this year, there’s a way to turn this Carcillo nonsense into a positive for the Hawks.
Is it going to be an incredible signing by Stan Bowman? That’s about as likely as John Scott being a point-per-game player, or even a point-every-ten-games player. But it has the potential to be a ‘decent’ signing for Bowman and the Blackhawks, if Carcillo can be even sort of held in check. Either that, or this is going to blow up in his face. Either way, he’s only making $775,000.