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 notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Eight draft picks in about 3 ½ hours. It was a busy Saturday for the Blackhawks, and when general manager Stan Bowman talked that afternoon about the team’s Day 2 haul, he came prepared.

“I have my little cheat sheet,” Bowman said of the paper on which he had written the Blackhawks’ eight newest prospects.

After a few days’ worth of moves the Blackhawks focused on the future, taking nine players over two days at the NHL Draft. It was a successful weekend for the Blackhawks, who hosted the draft for the first time and built up assets, especially on the blue line. Five of the Blackhawks’ nine selections were defensemen.

“One of the things we talked about was looking at the market. There’s a high value on defensemen. We’re not necessarily looking at the draft but our team this year and over the next couple of years; those are the assets that are valuable around the league,” Bowman said. “Look at the trade Calgary made [for Travis Hamonic], defensemen are a valuable commodity. That was a priority coming in and we were able to accomplish it.”

What comes next

The Blackhawks got what they wanted at this weekend’s draft but the focus will soon shift, as free agency opens on July 1. It remains to be seen what the Blackhawks will have cap-wise come a week from now. Currently, according to CapFriendly.com, they’re $1.445 million over the $75 million cap. It’s doubtful the Blackhawks apply the long-term injured reserve tag on Marian Hossa during the offseason. It’s possible they could still trade Marcus Kruger to gain some space. Bowman said, one way or another, “there will be some movement.”

“We’ll bring some players in, I don’t know how many, what position or what level,” he said. “This is where there’s a lot of activity, the couple weeks in the middle of June until the middle of July. That’s when the most changes happen. We’ll go to work, now that we’re past this.”

Wait for it

The Blackhawks also have to decide whether or not to qualify restricted free agents Dennis Rasmussen and Tomas Jurco. Bowman said that’ll be decided by Monday.

“I’ve had discussions with both agents,” he said. “I don’t have an answer right now but we’ll have that worked out in the next day and a half.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson heard some of the rumors, but not to a large degree. The former Blackhawks defenseman wasn’t spending a lot of time on the internet reading up on his potential fate. He figured he’d still stay put in Chicago.

“But when my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said via conference call on Saturday. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Indeed, Hjalmarsson’s next jersey will be that of the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired him in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy on Friday. Hjalmarsson’s departure marks the end of the line for another Blackhawks core player, and this one is jarring in how it will change the team’s defense.

Speaking of change, Hjalmarsson faces a lot of it himself now. Sure, there’s the obvious change for a guy who’s played his entire career in one place. It’s new surroundings and a new team, on which he knows former Blackhawks teammate Antti Raanta and fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But the Coyotes have dealt with a lot of upheaval lately. Goaltender Mike Smith is gone. So is veteran Shane Doan. On Thursday, head coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes parted ways.

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

Hjalmarsson should find chemistry with Ekman-Larsson – the two were teammates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Hjalmarsson will likely play a bigger role with the Coyotes. Arizona will probably look to Hjalmarsson a lot during its rebuild, given his Cup-winning history.

The first 24 hours were full of mixed emotions of Hjalmarsson. With his limited no-move clause, he was always a likely candidate to be moved from a Blackhawks team laden will full no-move clauses. He’s turning a page, but he won’t forget his time in Chicago anytime soon.

“I’m trying to always be a positive guy,” Hjalmarsson said. “I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”