Chicago Blackhawks

Daniel Carcillo staying busy by helping out former players and future ones

Daniel Carcillo staying busy by helping out former players and future ones

Daniel Carcillo has plenty keeping him busy these days.

At home, he and his wife are parents to a month-old daughter and a 2 ½-year-old son in the potty-training phase – “it’s man-on-man coverage with my son,” he said. There’s also his Chapter 5 Foundation, which helps athletes transition into life after the game, and the Team Illinois Mission U15 AAA team, which Carcillo coaches.

The former Blackhawks forward, who was part of the NHL’s “Go Beyond” event in Chicago on Thursday, is happy in his personal life and giving back to the game, even if he doesn’t really look at it that way.

“I just enjoy being around those kids. It really helps me to kind of ground myself a little bit after being on the business side of it,” Carcillo said of the U15 team. “[They’re] 14, 15 years old, and it’s so funny to be around those kids and listen to what they have to say and the energy they bring. Being able to help them grow, not only in the game but off the ice as people, to get them to have fun, to be good teammates, that’s what I like to emphasize. The development part of it on the ice is a really big focus, and that’s been a challenge for me, going from player to coach. But it’s been a lot of fun.”

Carcillo retired from the NHL in the fall of 2015. He then focused his attention to his Chapter 5 Foundation, named for former Blackhawks forward and Carcillo’s close friend Steve Montador, who died in February 2015. He said the foundation has helped more players – “we don’t make them public though. If they want to talk about it they’re more than welcome,” he said.

Carcillo says he misses some aspects of his playing days.

“I miss the guys, miss the room. Away from hockey, you’re just trying to recreate that outside-of-the-locker-room atmosphere and it’s a little difficult because everyone’s so far away and so busy during the year. You don’t want to feel like a burden. When guys want to connect with you and need the help or just want to talk, they end up reaching out,” Carcillo said. “With my foundation, it’s not much of a formal process. But one of the biggest things with Chapter 5 is building that community so when guys get out of the game they can lean on other guys in a mentorship type of role.”

As for watching hockey, Carcillo has caught some of this year’s playoffs.

“There are some teams surprising people, but the teams that are being successful right now are working hard, outworking other clubs and taking the will away,” he said. “It’s nice to see that. It’s nice to see guys going to the net hard, getting gritty and trying to take the will of the other team away. That’s what has to happen in a seven-game series. You have to take that other team’s will away.”

The Nashville Predators seemed to do just that to the Blackhawks, who were dismissed in a four-game sweep in April. The Predators are now headed to the Western Conference final after eliminating the St. Louis Blues on Sunday afternoon.

Asked if he was surprised at how the Blackhawks lost, Carcillo said, “nothing surprises me hockey-wise, but I think everyone was taken back, just looking at the season they had. They ran into a hot goaltender and [Predators coach Peter] Laviolette, I was on the 2010 [Philadelphia Flyers] team and he can trap it up with the best of them. It was a perfect recipe for Nashville.”

From helping those players ending their careers to those who hope to have one someday, Carcillo’s contributing plenty. His playing days are done but his work with the game isn’t.

“I’m just trying to stay busy and stay around the youth of Chicago,” Carcillo said. “I’m enjoying that part of my job.”

Brandon Saad back in veteran-like form for Blackhawks

saad-924.jpg
USA TODAY

Brandon Saad back in veteran-like form for Blackhawks

Brandon Saad seems like more of an NHL veteran than he is. From his size to his composed style of play to what he’s already accomplished at this level, Saad gives off that vibe that he’s been around much longer than he actually has. Even his teammates forget that.

“You think he may be 27, 28 years old. He’s only 24 years old. He’s still a young kid,” Patrick Kane said. “Guys like [Ryan] Hartman and [Vinnie] Hinostroza are only 23 so he’s not much older than them, even though he might seem it. He’s got a great future.”

Saad’s future is once again being played out in Chicago and he couldn’t feel better about returning. Back in a familiar city and a familiar spot on the ice – alongside Jonathan Toews – Saad is ready to reignite the top line with Toews and Richard Panik. Outside of some scrimmages the line hasn’t gotten much of a chance to see where things are yet – their first preseason game was against Columbus on Saturday. But Saad said things are coming together.

“It was still [Toews’] first game back and my first time with him but we’re pretty familiar with each other. I don’t think it’ll take long at all,” he said following the team’s first practice at Notre Dame on Sunday. “Any time you come from a five-month summer into the season your timing’s always a little off, and then with a new player going back to a familiar player, I think that’s the biggest thing.”

Toews recognized Saad’s desire to be a big part of this team when the left wing was a rookie. That drive hasn’t diminished.

“His rookie year I kept saying you could see that intangible quality in him, that he wanted to get better every single night,” Toews said. “You see players with raw, physical talent and ability but don’t take it upon themselves to be one of the guys every single night. Saader was showing that right away and you could tell he was just going to get better and better.”

The powerful part of Saad’s game the Blackhawks missed the most was evident in his first preseason contest back with him, against Detroit on Thursday. The Red Wings didn’t have their top squad but Saad was nevertheless dominant, recording a hat trick in which all three goals were within a few feet of the net. The top line has had that element here and there the past two seasons but no doubt felt Saad’s absence.

“He’s a high-end player or potential player that should develop into a regular scorer and who knows what he could do,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I still think there’s room where maybe he could go to a better level as far as production goes, because he gets so many looks around the net with his quickness and the way he protects the puck and the way he can shoot it.”

Saad reaching another level. Again, you see what he’s done so far and you forget that he’s only 24. He still has a lot of time – and potential – ahead of him.

“He’s stepping in here knowing he’ll be one of those guys heavily keyed upon for us,” Toews said. “And he’s ready for that and excited for it.”

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Shots and slashes

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Shots and slashes

It’s preseason: you don’t need a lot of build-up. Let’s just delve right in, shall we?

1. Lots of shots, but…

The same Joonas Korpisalo that the Blackhawks’ youngsters scored five goals against on Tuesday was on top of his game on Saturday. The Blackhawks peppered him with 54 shots but only two got through, and the second was a 6-on-4 power-play goal in the final two minutes.

“I thought we could have gotten a little more traffic in front of him," Nick Schmaltz said. "I thought we were playing along the outside. I mean we had some great looks. He made some big saves. Some nights you get the bounces and some nights you don’t.”

2. Bérubé’s Blackhawks debut.

Jean-François Bérubé had a tough sequence early in the second period, when he gave up two goals in a 28-second span. This was against a Columbus team that didn’t send many of their top players. He also didn’t see a ton of action in this one; the Blue Jackets fired just 21 shots his way.

3. Growing pains.

Alex DeBrincat had his up and down moments on Saturday night. His turnover led to Columbus’ first goal, he took a slashing penalty and he fought the puck quite a bit. You still saw glimpses of that skill, though, especially with his quick release. Hey, he’s a 19-year-old guy getting his first taste of the NHL. Nights like this are going to happen.

“We all make mistakes,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “You gotta be safe in certain areas and you learn from that.”

4. Slash-o-meter.

Four more were called on Saturday night. Don’t be surprised if that number starts dwindling sooner rather than later, though, because the edict has apparently changed already. Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported earlier on Saturday that the league told officials to ease up on slashing and faceoff violations. But we all figure that’s going to happen once the regular season begins anyway, right?

5. Notre Dame bound.

The destination is familiar but the Blackhawks threw it into their second week of camp this season. It’ll be bonding time for the Blackhawks, who will send a smaller group for several practices there this week. Quenneville figures it’ll be a productive time. “We’ll get some bonding in, play golf together, have a nice outing, couple of road games and a nice campus.”