Dan Carcillo Deserves Some Credit…and an Apology

January 4, 2014 was an interesting day. The Rangers sent a seventh-round pick to the Kings for sparsely used forward Dan Carcillo because the team recognized at the time a need for more of ‘grit’ and ‘toughness’ — two overly valued hockey player traits. It certainly was an interesting move at the time around the hockey community.

I believe my exact response to seeing the trade was ‘UGH.’ I knew Carcillo’s reputation, I remember his days with the Flyers and I certainly remember his fight with Marian Gaborik a few seasons back. Carcillo was a punk; he was the prototypical ‘agitator.’ You hated when your team would play against him, but would most likely love to have him on your team.

I wasn’t one who subscribed to that theory. I didn’t like Dan Carcillo and most definitely didn’t want his ‘antics’ anywhere on the Rangers costing them games with his behavior, no matter how little he’d be used.

I’m here to admit today not only was I completely wrong about Carcillo, but I want to extend an apology. And anyone else who felt the same should hop on board.

Since he’s arrived, Carcillo has been the complete opposite of what you expected to get. He gelled on the fourth line with Brian Boyle and Dominic Moore to form a trio that Alain Vigneault could trust, giving the head coach the ability to roll all his lines. Carcillo has stayed out of the penalty box (43 PIMs in 31 games), contributed offensively (3 goals) and, surprisingly, has slotted in as an OK puck possession player (54.8 FF% 5-on-5 close, 54.9 FF% 5-on-5 tied). He’s been a good solider and teammate, handling being juggled in and out of the lineup like he should.

Not to be forgotten, the Rangers rolled off nine wins in their next 12 games to finish out January after Carcillo was acquired. #CarcilloEffect

What more could you have asked for?

The pinnacle of his Rangers’ tenure came in Game 3 against the Flyers. Vigneault’s bold move to slot the former Flyer into the lineup in Philadelphia paid dividends. Carcillo, with the exception of one dumb infraction, toed the line perfectly in agitating the Flyers while playing an effective game. His third period goal was icing on the cake.

Carcillo, in the regular season and playoffs, has scored four goals. Two of them have come against the Flyers.

What can we expect from Carcillo from here on out? We don’t know. If it’s more of what we saw in Game 3 with a smidge more restraint, it may not be out of the realm of possibility to say Carcillo is the reason the series turns in the Rangers’ favor.

Just remember what Sean Avery did to an Atlanta Thrashers team in the playoffs back in 2007. He got into Ilya Kovalchuk’s head and he tried fighting him. Getting the Flyers to concentrate more on smashing Carcillo’s face in than trying to win playoff games would be a fantastic chess move for Vigneault and the Rangers.

Now, we all know I could’ve just put the reverse mush on Carcillo and he goes out in Game 4, takes three back-breaking penalties, the Rangers lose 5-1, all the momentum shifts to the Flyers and all the kind words I just wrote about the man would go straight in the toilet. But it should be said that, unlike some other enforcers/agitators who have ‘reformed’ themselves **cough Matt Cooke cough cough** over the years, Dan Carcillo has come to the Rangers with one focus: playing hockey. He deserves a bit of a stick tap for that, and an apology from all his detractors.

Including me.

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About James Wrabel, Jr.