Suspension 'tough to swallow' for Carcillo

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Suspension 'tough to swallow' for Carcillo

Daniel Carcillo didnt think twice about that early hit on Friday night. But the NHL did, and now Carcillo is sidelined again.

Carcillo was suspended two games for his hit on Carolina defenseman Joni Pitkanen on Friday night. Carcillo will sit out Saturday nights game against Columbus as well as Mondays contest against Nashville, both Central Division tilts.

Pitkanen was a bit slow to get up after the hit, which sent him into the boards early in the first period. But he went on to play the rest of the game, logging a team-high 22 minutes, 21 seconds on ice.

No penalty was called on the play.

I just tried making a play on the puck. Maybe I was leaning on him, but I felt like he lost his edge and we both went into the boards. That was that, he said. He was trying to shield me from the puck. He was doing his job and I dont know what else I couldve done in that situation to make it less careless or less reckless, the way they describe it. So like I said, he lost his edge and he went down and here I am sitting out two games.

Coach Joel Quenneville also thought Pitkanen was off balance when Carcillo hit him. But Rob Blake of the NHLs department of player safety said otherwise in the video explanation. Blake said the hit, which was in violation of Rule 41.1, was a reckless hit from behind.

Carcillo leans on Pitkanen from behind. At this point, Pitkanens balance is intact and his feet are planted securely on the ice, Blake said. When Carcillo pushes him, it throws (Pitkanen) forward, causing him to toe pick which leads to his loss of balance.

Carcillo is a repeat offender in the NHL, with the latest being his fifth suspension, and that probably didnt help matters when the punishment was handed down.

Theres not too much leeway in this league (for me). Maybe give some serious thought to changing my last name or something, Carcillo said.

Quenneville concurred.

His scrutiny when hes on the ice, his leash for what he can and cannot do is very short and I think he knows that, he said. Thats something well always be aware of when we go forward. We dont want him slowing down with how he plays the game.

The NHL has made it clear that its taking a harder stance on hits to vulnerable players, or hits on players in vulnerable positions. Carcillo was playing well for the Blackhawks in the early going. But right now, hell have to sit the next two out.

I thought I was doing a pretty good job of making safe hits and Ive never been suspended for a hit and Ive made hundreds every year, he said. Im just frustrated right now. Its a tough pill to swallow.

Blackhawks: Abbott happy to be back after season in Sweden

Blackhawks: Abbott happy to be back after season in Sweden

Spencer Abbott enjoyed his short stint in Rockford, which came after he was acquired by the Blackhawks in February 2015. At the time, he thought staying here was his most likely plan.

Then he got an offer Frölunda in Sweden.

“I thought, ‘why not give it a shot? Maybe it’ll be a good experience and bring it back with me,’” said Abbott on Monday. “It was worth it, for sure. I have no regrets.”

Abbott, who’s back with the Blackhawks, had never been to Europe prior to getting that Frölunda offer. But his first trip across the pond was a good one as Abbott was part of Frölunda’s run to its Swedish and Champions hockey league titles. Abbott had 14 goals and 21 assists in 51 regular-season games. Abbott got plenty out of the games, but not nearly as much as he did in the team’s training camp.

“The first month and a half you’re over there, you’re there from 8 [a.m.] to 4 [p.m.] every day. I think over here there’s a rule against being here for more than 3-4 hours, but not over there. It’s like a 9-5 job for a month and a half, a lot of working out, a lot of bike riding. So for me, that was good because I had never been in that kind of shape before,” said Abbott, who added he’s trying to incorporate some of that into his routine here. “Training camps here are hard but they’re just different over there. There’s a lot of ice, bigger ice [overseas], so they really condition you. So my conditioning may be a bit better.”

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As much as Abbott loved his time in Sweden, he ultimately wanted to be back in the NHL. So when the Blackhawks offered him a one-year deal, he jumped at it. He’s gotten off to a good start this training camp, scoring a few goals in the team’s early scrimmages.

“I wasn’t sure how it would play out, to be honest. I’m 28 and pretty early in the summer they were showing interest,” Abbott said. “This is one for the places I really wanted to come, because I did l really like the organization when I was here for that brief period of time. Now I get the full effect as long as they’ll have me. It’s such a good organization.”

Abbott probably could have kept playing overseas but he wanted another chance in the NHL. He’s happy it’s once again coming in the Blackhawks’ organization.

“It’s overwhelming. There are so many places to play hockey nowadays in Europe. There are tons of leagues over there. But it didn’t interest me,” he said. “I wanted to come back and give it one more shot.”

Blackhawks: Keith unlikely to play first four preseason games

Blackhawks: Keith unlikely to play first four preseason games

Duncan Keith was already deemed unlikely to play in many, if any, Blackhawks preseason games, when training camp opened. As of now, it doesn’t look like he’ll be in the first few.

Keith will probably not play in the Blackhawks’ first four preseason games, assistant coach Kevin Dineen said following Monday’s training camp sessions. As for whether or not Keith will play in any, that’s still up in the air.

“That’s a question that Dunc and the medical staff, Stan [Bowman], Joel [Quenneville], we’ll all get to that. I wouldn’t foresee him certainly in these first four games. I would say that’s not going to happen,” Dineen said. “We’ll let him keep progressing on his timetable that he’s on now.”

Keith has been participating in one practice each day but has not been in any of the scrimmages. Assistant coach Mike Kitchen said Keith has asked to skate in the team’s second practice each day – each session is about 20-25 minutes – but the Blackhawks have told him no. As of now, both Dineen and Kitchen figure Keith will be ready for the regular-season opener but the Blackhawks will continue to be prudent with him.

“He’s out there wheeling around, doing well,” Dineen said. “We had a good chat with him today. He feels like he has a lot of jump but not a lot of stamina right now. We’ll continue the way we’ve handled it so far. We’ll keep moving forward that way.”

Players returning soon

Patrick Kane, who was at the United Center on Monday afternoon, will skate with the Blackhawks on Tuesday. Defenseman Michal Kempny will also join Tuesday’s sessions. Dineen said Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger, Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin are expected to join the Blackhawks on Friday.

Neither Kane nor Kempny are expected to play Wednesday vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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Pokka is back

Defenseman Ville Pokka, who played for Team Finland in the World Cup of Hockey, skated with the Blackhawks on Monday.

“Anybody coming back from Toronto over the last two weeks is going to have a heck of a lot of confidence,” Dineen said. “A young kid like that getting the chance to represent his country on the international stage is a great honor and a pick-me-up heading into training camp and the season.”

First cuts made

The Blackhawks made their first round of cuts on Monday, sending Radovan Bondra, John Dahlstrom, Nathan Noel and Roy Radke to their respective junior teams. The active roster is now at 57 players.