Two years ago, had I asked you who the biggest pest in the NHL was, there were more than a few answers that could've been handed around.
At that point, Ryan Hollweg was in New York and frustrating Rangers' fans with senseless penalties and mis-timed fights. George Parros' had caught on full-time for the Anaheim Ducks, while Riley Cote of the Flyers was still running around slamming people through the boards in Philadelphia.
Then, of course, you had your Sean Averys, Jordin Tootoos, Jared Bolls, and...well...people were at least talking about Steve Downie.
But amongst all of those names, it was a guy that was traded for the league's definitive heavyweight (Georges Laraque) who had taken the penalty minutes title.
Looking at it, it's kind of ironic that the Penguins, who were looking for toughness, traded away the man who would lead the league in penalty minutes and finish six fights ahead of Laraque for the season.
Then again, there's being a tough guy and playing with reckless abandon, but also playing recklessly and abandoning all sense of reason.
Which seems to be what it's come to for Carcillo.
In that 2007-08 season, Carcillo was a surprise when he took over the penalty minute crown, but what also surprised a lot of people was how he finished the season.
For a guy that had seemingly done nothing other than sit in the penalty box that year (Consider that he was on the ice for 725 minutes that season and in the box for 324—meaning that, statistically speaking, he missed out on a third of potential ice time), Carcillo exploded offensively.
Over his last three games, Carcillo recorded five goals (including a hat-trick in the second-last game), one assist, was a plus-2, and had only 14 minutes in penalties. In the season finale he played over 17 minutes for the second time that season and didn't even record a penalty.
Looking at that, it was Carcillo's most productive streak of the season. He had a three-game point streak earlier on in late November, but had recorded just a single assist in each game, and recorded 20 minutes in penalties.
It was that burst at the end of the season that allowed Wayne Gretzky to make the best observation he had ever made as a coach: If he keeps the gloves on, this kid can play.
Sidenote: That's not a jab at the Great One. There are a lot of coaches however, who would continue to try deploying their aggressor as a goon, whether he had shown some offensive flair or not. When Gretzky said that he wanted Carcillo to become a more complete player in 2008-09 I had a lot of respect for him as a coach and thought it was a great idea.
Then again, a lot of things work out on the chalkboard.
The hope for Carcillo however, fell by the wayside. His ice time fluctuated early on in the 2008-09 season and he was held pointless for the first 14 games and had just three points in his first 22.
His fighting stayed the same however. In 19 bouts the year before, Carcillo had 10 wins, four losses, and five draws. Heading in to the trade deadline, he had 18 fights for a 9-5-4 mark.
Then last March, he was traded to Philadelphia and something seemed to click. Or snap. Or...something.
Carcillo got in four fights before the end of the year, going 3-1.
Then in the playoffs, Carcillo won his lone fight of the postseason against Maxime Talbot of the Penguins and the attitude started to show through .
Maybe Carcillo had always been that way, but I don't remember him egging fans on in Phoenix. At that point, it seemed Carcillo was feeding off of the Flyer faithful, and repaying their energy with his own.
It's carried over to this season as well. But along with it, has come antics.
There's of course the all-famous "rock and roll" symbol he flashed during the Winter Classic in Boston and last night against the Leafs. There's the fact that Carcillo will throw his body around without remorse for himself or his opponents.
But there's also the fact that he'll taunt an opposing bench. Or get into a war of words with Leafs' assistant coach Keith Acton.
He's a hybrid of a pest: He's got the mouth of Sean Avery, the toughness of Jody Shelley or Georges Laraque (Don't confuse that with the size of Laraque though), the irksome qualities of a Steve Downie or Jordin Tootoo, the facial hair of George Parros (Ok not really...it's more Crosby-esque), and hands unlike any enforcer I've ever seen .
He's also got the quality that a few others have to disregard "the line" and cross it, and he's started doing it at a higher frequency.
Should he stop? In my opinion....no. The flair he brings to the game, while crossing that line, is something that's being drained out of sports as a whole. There are far too few personalities in the game anymore.
But what he should do is curtail it. And if not, Carcillo will need to start watching his own back, because styles like that have a history of coming back to bite the ones that employ them.
Bryan Thiel is a Senior Writer and an NHL Community Leader for Bleacher Report. If you want to get in contact with Bryan, you can do so through his profile , or you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out all of his previous work in his archives or at Hockey54.com—The Face of the Game!
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