Chicago Blackhawks: Expect More of the Unexpected from Daniel Carcillo

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Chicago Blackhawks: Expect More of the Unexpected from Daniel Carcillo
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
Despite a roller coaster of a 2011-12 campaign, the 'Hawks brought back Daniel Carcillo.

Chicago Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo can be counted on for one thing: Unpredictability.

Could anyone have predicted that Carcillo would become something of a fan favorite in the early stages of last season? Sure, we knew he'd likely come under the fire of NHL discipline, but who saw him taking himself out of commission while he was committing those offenses?

Who could have foreseen a two-year contract for a player most had figured would be moving on after a brief stopover in the Indian Head sweater?

Carcillo did a little of everything in his 28-game effort in 2011-12. Starting the campaign on suspension, he was tagged with sanctions two more times by the league. He got a pair of games for a hit on Joni Pitkanen in Carolina to go along with his seven-game vacation for boarding Tom Gilbert, then of Edmonton

It was on that very play that Carcillo left us for the season, the victim of a torn ACL in his right knee. Perhaps the word "victim" is a poor choice of words, since Carcillo can only blame his choice to shove Gilbert from behind.

Before his season came to a karmic end, Carcillo had mixed some effective play into his potpourri of suspensions and injures. In his brief time on the ice, especially early in the season, he provided the kind of play we had hoped for in the best-case scenario when he was a surprise signing in July of 2011.

I, like many of you, figured Carcillo's days in Chicago were over when the knee injury ended his season on Jan. 2. Here's how I assessed his brief tenure:

How many games will Daniel Carcillo play for the Blackhawks in 2012-13 (assuming they play 82 games)?

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Carcillo's use as a top-six forward found a lot of us scratching our heads, but he brought a jolt of energy to the top lines. You could argue that Patrick Kane was a beneficiary of Carcillo on his line early this season.

There is no getting around the penalties and suspensions. The infraction against the Oilers totally changed the face of the game and was a big contributor to a 4-3 loss. Carcillo earned his ticket out of town if and when it comes to that.

On the other hand, to say Carcillo was a pure detriment in his 28 games is not accurate.

Carcillo was on his way to a 20-point season. He had a skater rating of plus-10. His Behind The Net rating at even strength was 2.85, the best of any Chicago player with at least 20 games played. Even with fewer games played, he was second on the team with 76 hits.

I'm not building Carcillo's Hart Trophy resume. I don't think any tears should be shed over his loss for the season, as he pretty much brought it all on himself. Bowman took a chance and it ended like we all knew it could.

What I'm trying to point out is this: Although the Carbomb experiment did not work out in the end, Daniel Carcillo was a player who contributed something to the 'Hawks season.

Then, in March, GM Stan Bowman re-signed Carcillo to a two-year contract worth $825,000 a year. Bowman apparently felt that the 'Hawks needed more of what Carcillo brought to the team in 2011-12 and gave him a raise and some security to do so.

Carcillo has maintained that he is going to make an effort to limit the dumber of his infractions in the future, but talk is cheap with a player who has proven he only knows one way to play this game. That style is often over the boundary of control. On the other hand, Bowman sent a clear message that he wants that edge, however Carcillo provides it.

Carcillo is quite the polarizing figure and will likely continue to be one for as long as he laces up the skates. When the man hits the ice, you're never going to know what's coming. For now, the 'Hawks have chosen to again roll the dice on his unpredictable nature.

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