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Given fresh start, Carcillo prepared to prove value

Monday, 08.08.2011 / 4:58 PM / News
By Brian Hedger  - NHL.com Correspondent
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Given fresh start, Carcillo prepared to prove value
The player with the nickname "Car Bomb" wants to show the Blackhawks he\'s more than just a fourth-liner while doing his best to walk the line between being a pest and getting punished by the League.
Forward Daniel Carcillo wants to show the Blackhawks he's more than just a fourth-liner. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean)

CHICAGO -- The flying fists, the suspensions and the nickname "Car Bomb" are always the first topics people want to bring up about new Chicago Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo.

For good reason, too.

His fists are often thrown in anger, which can sometimes lead to suspensions and the combination of the two is best described as volatile -- kind of like a car bomb.

"The way I play, I'm bound to miss a few games every year (on suspension)," Carcillo said Monday during a press conference at the United Center to officially introduce him and fellow free agent forward Andrew Brunette. "It comes with the territory. I'm not going to say I like being suspended. I don't like the pay cuts or missing the games. But the way I play, it's tough to stay out of the principal's office. "

Case in point: Carcillo will miss the first two games of the 2011-12 regular season with his new team because of an off-ice altercation he had with an official between the first and second period of Game 4 in last season's Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Boston Bruins.

However, Carcillo said he's out to prove something else in the coming season -- something he felt was lost last year amid all the fourth-line grinding and scrapping that he did with the Philadelphia Flyers.

"Everybody always (says) that I can fight, that I'm tough and I can hit, but I pride myself on my game, as well," Carcillo said. "I never want to be that fourth-line guy and that's kind of what I turned into last year. That's what they wanted me to be and I had a really, really hard time with it."

The stats bear that out.

Carcillo, 26, finished with just 4 goals and 6 points and ranked second on the team with 127 penalty minutes in 57 regular-season games -- though it should be noted two of his goals were game-winners. In the playoffs, Carcillo tallied two more markers and added an assist to go with 30 penalty minutes in 11 games, finishing with a plus-2 rating.

It wasn't a career-low in goals for Carcillo, who's scored 36 goals and 71 points spread over parts of five seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes and Flyers, but it was a far cry from the 12 goals and 22 points he gave the Flyers in the 2009-10 season.

His role being relegated to mostly fourth line is what Carcillo attributes to the drop-off last year.

"It's tough for me to do my job if I'm (only) on the ice for two minutes," Carcillo said. "You're not into the game, you don't get into the opponents' head and they don't have to worry about you. I'm at my best when they're worrying about me instead of the game. It was a tough year last year and my worst in the League. I'm looking forward to getting back to what I can do."

The Hawks are eagerly anticipating it, too -- despite some backlash from fans who aren't thrilled with the addition of Carcillo's No. 13 to the back of a Blackhawks sweater. Carcillo didn't make many friends in the stands at the United Center during the 2010 Cup Final won by Chicago, even though he played in just two games of that series. Now, he's got his work cut out to win them over -- something he also had to do in Philly.

"I wasn't very liked when I got to Philadelphia" Carcillo said. "They traded away a well-liked player for me. Obviously, sometimes my emotions get the best of me, but with time I've learned to hone it and I'm going to have to do the same thing here. Everything I do, I do as hard as I can with a lot of passion. Sometimes it gets me in trouble, but I think most of the time it works out. I think fans here will see that and hopefully they'll embrace it."

Monday was a good start.

Carcillo said he watched the Hawks' bitter, hard-hitting seven game loss in the first round to the rival Vancouver Canucks last spring and noticed several Canucks -- or former Canucks -- he'd like to have words with this season.

"I'm actually pretty excited to play them, because there's a few guys there that I think, you know, played a little bit outside of their shoes," Carcillo said. "I think I can keep most of those guys in check when we play them this year. I'm pretty excited to play them."

Anybody in particular?

"(Maxim Lapierre), (Tanner Glass) and (Raffi Torres)," Carcillo said, smirking. "Just … because. Lapierre's at the top of the list, though."

Glass and Torres have both moved on to new teams, but Lapierre remains in Vancouver -- as does defenseman Kevin Bieksa, another constant irritant. The potential for fireworks is always high when those two teams play in recent seasons, and now the Hawks employ a guy who answers to the name "Car Bomb."

Carcillo, however, said he knows there is a limit when it comes to stirring things up. It's not always an easy balance, either.

"That comes with time and experience," said Carcillo, who will be playing for his third NHL team. "I've been in this League now for (a while), so I know what to do and I know what not to do. I know when to fight. I know when not to fight. I can sense when the guys need a pick-me-up and to go out there and to either get a hit or turn the energy in a game. That's one of the biggest parts of my job, to realize that."

Being a constant pest is another part of the job requirements, after the Hawks inked him to a one-year contract worth $775,000 according to capgeek.com.

"After the team won the Stanley Cup, I think they lost some of their grit and I think everybody realized that," Carcillo said. "(Hawks General Manager Stan Bowman) brought me in, brought (Jamal Mayers) in, he's brought (Sean O'Donnell) in, brought (Brunette) in, to get that back and to get that attitude back and that swagger they had when they won the Cup that year. The biggest thing that me and Stan have talked about is just to get that attitude back."

Author: Brian Hedger | NHL.com Correspondent