NHL Free Agency: Why Did Dan Carcillo Move to Chicago Blackhawks?

Mary Ann Reitano@MusingMaryAnnContributor IIIJuly 4, 2011

NHL Free Agency:  Dan Carcillo moves to Blackhawks—Why?

If you followed any of the free-agency frenzy since July 1, the move that many around the NHL are still scratching their collective head about is the almost unimaginable signing of now former Philadelphia Flyer Dan Carcillo to the Chicago Blackhawks. Meanwhile, unsurprisingly, many Blackhawks fans are ready to scratch their eyes out.  

For some, myself included, the mere image of a player of Carcillo’s "style" donning the Indian head jersey borders on sacrilegious. I am all for having enforcers on the team—Bob Probert will always be one of my favorites—yet this isn’t the 1970s and there is a fine line between enforcer and thug; Carcillo certainly falls into the latter category.

Just keep in mind that days before the 2010 Winter Classic, this is the guy who bragged to NBC’s Mike Emrick and Eddie Olczyk that he was going to be part of the first fight in Winter Classic history. While other writers have been typing on eggshells, not wanting to come out and say it, I will: This is wrong on so many levels that it is mind-boggling.

It is well understood that we needed some physicality and if we had acquired Carcillo first, before the likes of Steve Montador, Sean O’Donnell or Andrew Brunette, then maybe we could understand it as a knee-jerk reaction on the part of GM Stan Bowman and company. Yet, adding Carcillo to the mix after the major acquisitions of free agency just doesn’t seem to make sense.

I don’t buy into the hype that he was brought in to protect some of the franchise players because the need for d-men is one thing, the need for one of the Hanson brothers is something else entirely. Not to mention the fact that Meyers, O’Donnell and Montador were brought in for that very same reason.

Stan is playing with the integrity and the character of a team that has prided itself on skill and precision with grit, without the need for a line of goons. We proved that fact when we beat the Flyers for the Stanley Cup in 2010.   

While some argue that it is only a one-year deal on an already crowded roster and that he most likely will not see a lot of ice time, many are downplaying the controversy that comes with a player like Carcillo both on and off the ice. Adding him to the Hawks roster is nothing short of an invitation for disaster. 

For over 10 years Daniel Carcillo has been building a reputation that has kept HockeyFights.com in the black. In just the past three seasons he has the following stats: 22 fights in 2008-09, 17 fights in 2009-10 and 13 fights last season.

He averaged 7:45 minutes/12 shifts per game this past season and had no PP goals and no shorthanded goals either. He spent more than two of those seven minutes in the penalty box, leaving five minutes of playing time to make an impact.   

Kopes showing some love to Carcillo
Kopes showing some love to CarcilloJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Since starting his hockey career in the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League (OPJHL) in 2001, Carcillo has amassed 986 PIM. How exciting will it be to have him reach that coveted 1,000 PIM in a Hawks jersey? I personally cannot wait for the United Center crowd to cheer for that milestone.

Considering the mediocre penalty kill percentage of the Blackhawks (79 percent—25th in the NHL), does it make sense to add someone to the roster who in just 57 games last season accounted for 127 PIM? Chicago as a team had a total of 742 PIMs with our highest penalized player being John Scott, 23rd on the NHL’s player list, with a mere 72 PIMs is 40 games.

Our PK in the regular season was a dismal 23 percent—that was a stat that needed more attention, not adding a player who individually would represent 17 percent of the Hawks' PIM last season. Meanwhile, Carcillo comes from a team that accumulated 1,119 PIM, seventh highest in the NHL, with Chicago being 28th out of 30 teams with only 742 PIM.

Just by doing a web search of Carcillo quotes, you will find some beauties like this: “He is just a rat,” in reference to Vancouver’s Alex Burrows. While many Hawks fans would not shed a tear over calling Burrows a rat, the Carcillo quote index is, at the very least, not anything you would expect from a Chicago Blackhawk.

The chances of someone like Carcillo changing his ways are next to nil. Does the Blackhawk front office really think they can reign in someone like Dan Carcillo? 

In March of this year, after an incident in which Maple Leaf Mike Komisarek was taken out of the game, Carcillo had this to say: “I kind of would have liked to see him stay on the ice, to do something about it,” Carcillo said. “But I’ll have to wait until next year.”

Will Carcillo plan on keeping that promise as a Blackhawk? Thankfully, because of the change in conferences, Carcillo will have fewer opportunities to make that happen. Will Joel Quenneville have the time and patience to quell someone like Dan Carcillo? Or will be just bench him and call it a season?

This are the kind of off-ice considerations that Stan Bowman should have been making before considering adding Carcillo to the roster. If Stan thinks that Carcillo will simply get with the program once he arrives in Chicago, he must have missed the exchange between Carcillo and, I believe, the Columbus Blue Jackets in which Carcillo made it very clear that he would play his game his way and no one was going to try to change him.    

Yet Stan defended the move by calling Carcillo “intriguing” and “a personality” here. Intriguing is the last word that most Hawk fans are using to describe this blindsided acquisition.  Here are just a select few from Twitter:

@lifesavergirl “My husband is about to have a stroke about the signing of Carcillo...”

@TheStanchion “Carcillo is one gene removed from being a Neanderthal.”

@Esbee2 “OH MY GOD, I just had the worst thought. Keep Joey the Junior Reporter away from Carcillo!”

@Stevewsop “Has #Blackhawks Stan Bowman admitted drunk-texting Carcillo yet? I still feel like it’s a late April Fool’s joke or something.”

To add insult to injury, Carcillo will arrive to the Blackhawks with two games remaining on his four-game suspension for verbally abusing an official during the first round of the playoffs last season. Hawk fans will have a few games to get used to seeing Carcillo in a Hawks jersey as he rides the pines, yet seeing him on the ice in our beloved red and black is going to take some serious getting used to.  

It may only be a year, but it might be a very long one.