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Suspended agitator Daniel Carcillo will have to skate ‘a fine line’

Daniel Carcillo

Daniel Carcillo

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Updated: February 7, 2012 8:33AM

PHILADELPHIA — The Blackhawks knew the risks but ­preferred to look at the rewards when deciding to add a player with Daniel Carcillo’s reputation and history of suspensions.

They figure to be without the rewards for some time.

Carcillo, who served the first game of his ­seven-game suspension for boarding Edmonton Oilers defenseman Tom Gilbert on Thursday in Philadelphia against the Flyers, broke into the NHL as an agitator. It was and still is his job to fight, hit, chirp and irritate. His role means being abrasive and aggressive.

Some teams like the Hawks, who were in search of toughness this offseason, value that role. But the NHL has come down hard on players who live on the edge such as Carcillo every season since the lockout. Hits that were once legal aren’t anymore.

The Hawks hoped Carcillo would provide protection and open up space for their stars up front, and he did have some success on the top two lines. But with the hard-line stance on hits, it was inevitable that Carcillo would get in trouble if he didn’t drastically change his game. He said so himself.

‘‘The way I play, I’m bound to miss a few games every year,” Carcillo said at his introductory news conference. “It comes with the territory. I don’t want to say I like being suspended. I don’t like the pay cuts. I don’t like missing the games. But ... it’s tough to stay out of the principal’s office.’’

The Hawks say they knew what they were getting when they signed Carcillo, who has been suspended or fined 10 times in his career. Coach Joel Quenneville thought Carcillo found a balance, and general manager Stan Bowman even said he believes Carcillo matured this season.

Carcillo said multiple times this season the NHL’s tough stance and his history had him thinking more when he goes in for hits. But he also said often that if he didn’t play physical, he wouldn’t be in the league. As NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan said when ­explaining both of Carcillo’s ­suspensions for hits this season, a lot of the onus is on the player making the hit. It was his responsibility to hold up, and he didn’t.

“There is a fine line that he’s going to have to watch and we’re going to have to be aware of as well,” Quenneville said. “[Carcillo] plays hard. We’ll deal with it.”

Carcillo is eligible to return
Jan. 18 against the Buffalo Sabres. The Hawks aren’t saying whether Carcillo, who suffered an injured left knee when Gilbert fell on his leg, will be ready to play by that time. Bowman said surgery is a possibility.

“Obviously, he’s not going to play for a little bit here,” Bowman said. “The best course of action we should know soon.”

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