Evolution of Carcillo
March 4, 2009 was a controversial day for some. The NHL’s trading deadline sent Flyers fan favorite Scottie Upshall to Phoenix in enchange for reigning penalty minute leader Dan Carcillo. At first glance, the trade looks a little uneven; a third-line energy guy for a “goon”. Carcillo was a bit of a loose cannon in Phoenix which prompted the Flyers faithful to wonder why GM Paul Holmgren dealt for him.
His first (half) season with the Flyers was rough, only tallying 4 assists in 20 regular season games, and not scoring his first Flyer goal until Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Also in that series, Carcillo was a lightning rod of controversy, as he was suspended for Game 2 (for punching Maxime Talbot in the head), and started a fight with Talbot in Game 6, which may or may not have (depending on your view) lead to the Penguins comeback to win the game and wrap up the series.
However, over the summer the Flyers signed forward Ian Laperriere, and it seems that he has been a good influence on Carcillo. Many times we’ve seen this year that Carcillo could, or might do something nuts, and he doesn’t. He still picks up the fighting majors (twelve this year) but he picks his timing better, rather than just fighting when he feels like it. Here’s not to say Carcillo is undebatable. He has been suspended four games for punching Matt Bradley, and recently has come under fire (mainly by the Rangers and their fans) for fighting Marian Gaborik.
As we approach the one year anniversary of the trade, Carcillo has seen himself more popular in Philadelphia than on his first day. Some still may not like him, for whatever reason, but his feistiness and showmanship have made him a favorite among most fans. Whether or not the fans like him, opponents and their fans despise him. He constantly yaps to opposition, and will back it up if needed. He gets under their skin and tries to throw them off their game. He leads the team in hits and embodies what it means to be a Flyer. Don’t forget he grew up as a Flyer fan as a kid, so he knows a little about the Flyer history and culture.
There has been another aspect to Carcillo’s game that we have been seeing lately that is new to us: goal scoring. For the season, Carcillo has 6 goals and 6 assists, which is about average for the NHL. But in his last nine games, he has three goals. Not just scoring goals, but dangling around defensemen, and deking out goaltenders. While with Phoenix, then-coach Wayne Gretzky said he could be a 30 goal scorer at one point, and while 30 goals is probably a stretch, we’ve seen that he has the talent to chip in every few games and help the team.