Early Friday evening, the Blackhawks closed up shop with the announcement of a one year contract worth $775,000 to Dan Carcillo. The reaction it received was worthy of Stan Bowman signing him to a Brian Campbell-like contract. Again, it’s a one year contract at the near league minimum.
The other curious part was how angry some people got over him. This for a guy who’s most memorable moment against the Blackhawks was checking his own teammate in the Stanley Cup Finals. (Actually, I could understand if people were still angry with him for when he and then teammate Todd Fedoruk started a near-riot in a blowout against the Coyotes three years. With just a few minutes left in the game and the Hawks easily ahead, Carcillo checked Cristobal Huet behind the net and then jumped Brian Campbell, the first Hawk on the scene. Of course, three people remember that incident so who really cares.)
There was absolutely no doubt the Blackhawks were going to make an effort to acquire character players like Carcillo. Hell, in their exit interviews after the season, at least two ’core’ players mentioned the need for a player who can fight and actually play (A direct slap to John Scott if there was ever was one). So when Carcillo was signed, it shouldn’t have come as that big of a surprise. Carcillo can be a very effective player, scoring over 10 goals twice in his career. More importantly, he’s also a guy who can be a weapon in a playoff series.
What I mean by that final sentence is that when opposing teams break down film against the Hawks, Carcillo will be a name that gets mentioned. I promise you Ryan Johnson and Viktor Stalberg were suitably ignored when the Canucks were preparing for the Hawks. Now, that won’t be the case anymore. The more players the opposition has to worry about, the better off the Hawks are.
Anywho, on to the strongest opinion held against Dan Carcillo: “HE TAKES DUMB PENALTIES!!!”
First of all, I defy anyone to name an effective fourth liner who doesn’t from time to time dip into silly mode. I don’t know if last year’s team wiped Hawk fans memories clean of what a fourth line is supposed to do, but every single good fourth line plays on the proverbial edge. Sometimes they go over that edge and sometimes they don’t.
The other major point is guys with penalty minute totals like Carcillo are always inflated because of misconducts and fights, neither of which necessarily hurt the team all that much. So let’s take a closer look at his PIM from last year.
In 57 games, Carcillo accumulated 127 PIM.
Of those 127 penalty minutes, Carcillo was involved in 13 fights (courtesy of hockeyfights.com) and had three ten minute misconducts. The three ten minute misconducts all came at the end of Flyer blowout wins. So right off the bat, that’s 95 penalty minutes you can take right off the board. The reason why is because none of those penalty minutes really hurt the Flyers.
That leaves another 32 minutes in penalties, or just 16 penalty violations. Incidentally, more than a few times this year, Carcillo was whistled off the ice for coincidental penalties. So those are more penalty minutes where the consequences aren’t detrimental to the team. (In fact, if the Hawks go back to their skating dominance of a few years back, 4-on-4 play will actually swing the game in their favor. Thus making Carcillo an even more important player.) In only one game did Carcillo commit more than one minor penalty and his second penalty came as the buzzer sounded in a Flyers win.
Of the the five games where the Flyers lost and Carcillo committed a minor penalty, three times the finger of blame can be pointed at Carcillo’s penalty as the reason why Philadelphia lost. And even then, the evidence isn’t exactly overwhelming. Two games came against the Ottawa Senators and one against the Washington Capitals.
In the first game against Ottawa on February, Carcillo took a holding penalty halfway through the second period and the Flyers winning 1-0. The Senators scored on the power play and added three more to win 4-1.
On March 22nd against Washington and Philadelphia trailing 2-0, Carcillo took a cross-checking penalty with 30 seconds left in the first period. Washington scored to open the second for a 3-0 lead. Philadelphia came back to tie the game and send it to a shootout where they eventually lost.
Finally on April 5th against the Senators again, the Flyers trailed 3-2 in the third period. Carcillo took a holding penalty at the 7 minute mark. Ottawa scored to cushion their lead and added an empty netter for the 5-2 win.
And that was it. In the playoffs, only Philadelphia’s Game 4 5-1 loss to the Boston Bruins did Carcillo commit a minor penalty where the opposition scored and the Flyers lost. At that point, clearly there were some other things going wrong with Philadelphia that was much bigger than Dan Carcillo.
If all this isn’t enough evidence that Carcillo is more than just the selfish penalty-taking machine some claim him to be, his Behind the Net numbers are even more telling. In 60 minutes of play this year, Carcillo took 1.6 penalties. On the other side, he drew 1.5 penalties for his team every 60 minutes, effectively cancelling out each penalty he took by drawing one for his team.
How do you like ’dem apples?