Daniel Carcillo: Best Goon or Dumbest Goon?

I’ll admit here that I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for the goons of the NHL.  It sounds really effeminate to say that being as how I’m a dude, but it’s true.  I’ll sit around with my friends and we’ll throw out the names of legendary 1980s and 1990s goons and try to one-up each other.  Sure, most of these guys weren’t very good at hockey (Dennis Vial) and those that were had major issues of their own (Bob Probert).  For some reason, for those of us that grew up in that highly impressionable era of hockey through the 80s and early 90s the guys that dropped the gloves were always memorable and with the way the NHL has gone out of its way to try and “clean up” the game in recent years, they’ve taken on an aura all to themselves.

From the moment that Tie Domi ended his NHL career, the NHL landscape for pugilism seemed barren and it looked as if fans of the dirty side of hockey were going to have to keep a wandering eye towards the AHL to get their mixed martial arts of hockey fix.  After all, when you’ve got characters like Dennis Bonvie and Brian McGrattan accumulating over 500 PIMs in a single season, you have to respect the effort that goes into being that damn disruptive.  After all, not everyone is going to be a Crosby, Zetterberg or an Ovechkin – some guys are going to be Stu Grimson or Tiger Williams or Chris Nilan.

This is where Daniel Carcillo stepped in.

Two years ago, Carcillo was getting ice time in Phoenix when he made his NHL debut.  He played in just 18 games, but piled on 71 penalty minutes in that time, a pretty hefty haul considering the NHLs PIM leader in 2006-2007 was Philadelphia’s Ben Eager with 233.  Phoenix had another guy doing dirty work that season in Josh Gratton so Carcillo’s road to eventual goon-borne glory was blocked.

Come 2007-2008, Carcillo was a man on a mission accumulating an astonishing 324 PIM in 57 games.  Think about that.  He missed 25 games that season and still out-PIM’ed the second place finisher Jared Boll by 98 minutes.  That’s historic goonery not seen in the NHL since Peter Worrell of the Florida Panthers went bizonkers (thanks Gary!) and loaded up with 357 PIMs in 2001-2002.

The difference between the goonery back in the day and the goonery now, however, is how it gets put together.  Back in the 1980s, it’s fair to say that the big gun goons were all out to get after each other.  Most teams were able to pile up PIM totals that would make Lil’ Gary Bettman wet his pants and cry if they were to happen these days.  Well, moreso than he does nowadays anyhow.  I’ll just pick out a season at random and take a look at the PIM leaders from that season.  Let’s check out 1987-1988.

PIM Leaders

  1. Bob Probert 398
  2. Basil McRae 378
  3. Tim Hunter 337
  4. Richard Zemlak 307
  5. Chris Nilan 305
  6. Jay Miller 304
  7. Gord Donnelly 301
  8. Rick Tocchet 299
  9. Torrie Robertson 293
  10. Steve Smith 286

Now for those who were critical that the NHL was a goon league back in those days, keep in mind that Mario Lemieux scored 70 goals that season and lead the league in scoring (yes, even over Gretzky) with 168 points.  That season saw 12 players score over 100 points.

Now?  We’re lucky to see five players get 100 points in a season.  The first two seasons after Gary’s sport-crippling lockout are exceptions thanks to the insistence to help goal scoring via the power play.  Guys that rack up tons of penalty minutes are even more rare, whether you want to pin the cause on that to the incredibly bogus instigator rule or to the possibility that the game has moved beyond having guys out there strictly to enforce the “code” on the ice.  I don’t really subscribe to one idea or the other, but I am a firm believer in the instigator rule being totally bogus.

carcillofarvaOfficer Carcillo doesn’t want a God damn liter of cola.

Where this all came out to the forefront was last night when Daniel Carcillo managed to find a way to put his Philadelphia Flyers on a nine minute penalty kill, thanks to him trying to punchasize Washington Capitals Matt Bradley’s face.

Carcillo received a five-minute major for fighting, a two-minute instigator penalty (duh) and a two-minute minor for cross-checking. That’s a pretty hefty effort, especially when Matt Bradley picked up nothing… Since all he did was body check Daniel Carcillo cleanly.  Carcillo also got spanked by the Wheel of Justice to the tune of four games, a number that somewhat makes sense because Carcillo is a rather notorious character at this point.

I get that it’s Carcillo’s job to fight and inspire his teammates and certainly that kind of play isn’t exactly frowned upon in Philadelphia but Carcillo is developing a bit of a habit of not choosing his moments wisely. Take a look at the playoffs last season where he decided to fight Pittsburgh’s Maxime Talbot and managed to not only inspire the Penguins but also the entirety of the Pittsburgh fan base. That kind of stuff is not what you’re paid to do if you’re Dan Carcillo.

I will say that my friends and I were initially amazed and impressed with Carcillo’s ability to consistently find his way to the penalty box and act out like an “old school” goon and while I’m not about to speak for them here, Carcillo isn’t from the same class of goon as those legends from the 80s and 90s.  He’s a different sort of creature, perhaps a guy who came along 10-15 years too late, but it’s tough to even make that assessment about him because he plays the game with such little respect for others on the ice.

Let’s face it, Matt Bradley was about another five seconds away from dropping the gloves with him and indulging his wont to fight… but he didn’t wait and cold-cocked him instead.  Much like Officer Farva from the movie “Super Troopers” Dan Carcillo’s shenanigans are cruel and tragic and above all else, ill-timed.  Flyers GM Paul Holmgren can talk all he wants about how he disagrees with Carcillo’s suspension and there are some intriguing arguments to be found as to why it’s “too much” but the Flyers knew exactly what they were getting when they brought him aboard and to be surprised at all that he does things like this or to get kid glove treatment from the league is just completely stupid.

Perhaps someday the Flyers will get their act together and stop appeasing the meathead part of their fanbase and outfitting the team with more goons than talent but as long as Bobby Clarke’s shadow looms around the organization, the Broad Street Bullies image is going to be impossible to shake.  Would Carcillo have fit in well with Dave Schultz and Bobby Clarke in the 70s?  Absofrigginlutely.  In today’s NHL though… Carcillo is a man out of his element and comes off more like a clown than an intimidator.

33 thoughts on “Daniel Carcillo: Best Goon or Dumbest Goon?

  1. Shaun

    Great entry. I would say it’d be easier to justify a guy like Carcillo if he served another purpose on the ice when he wasn’t gooning it up, but he really doesn’t.

  2. M from P Daddy

    Read the article but you need to differentiate between penalties and fighting majors. I will argue that Carcillo is a dumb penalty getter and has never honored the code of fighting and is not a real fighter. He is just an unsuccessful agitator and five beers short of a sixer. Another interesting thing to note and not that this is an anti flyer column but a lot of other teams represent having more PIM and are not considered a goon squad.

  3. Kyle

    Great post!

    I think 10, or even 5 years ago, we would have laughed at Carcillo’s antics and chided Bradley for being too slow to drop his gloves.

    This incident reminds me of Scott Walker on Aaron Ward from last season’s playoffs.

    What gives here? Carcillo *should* at least know and respect the goon “code” if that’s all he’s going to bring to the rink, but he can’t even do that. His skull is full of rocks instead of brains. You’re right – nobody should be surprised that Carcillo acts this way.

    That said, this is not 5 or 10 years ago. This is today, and the sport is evolving quickly to one where skill, speed and strategy reign supreme. The staged fight, and the clowns in those staged fights are becoming less and less relevant in today’s league. I don’t have proof, but I don’t know if they do what they claim they do, which is to change momentum, or wake up sleepy teammates.

    Carcillo, with his sucker punch has done nothing to prove that hockey needs this type of player in the league. If anything, all he did was add to the NHL-is-a-joke mentality that exists out there.

    I’m all for the spontaneous fight, where guys have a good reason to go at each other. Carcillo decided that getting hit cleanly was too much for him to handle, so he had to “send a message” to Bradley.

    Note to Knucklehead Carcillo: If you can’t handle getting hit, stop playing hockey.

  4. Don Saleski

    To say he is a goon only is just not the case. The Flyers got Carcillo to play hockey and be tough. He has not learned to cool the jets yet on the tough part and pick the right time. This person everyone3 wants to lynch happens to be a decent hockey player. The goal here was to take those skills along with his ability to fight and work him into the system. The person at fault here is the coaching staff who never really got a grip on the TEACH part. If this happened on a another team trust me it would have not met the same fate and I can list 5 examples this year where similar situations have occured with no penalty. Carcillo is a marked man with the refs and he did nothing to help his cause. He needs direction, discipline and a mentor. It is time for Pronger to step in and Richards to step aside. Pronger can captivate a locker room as well a hockey rink with his play and his stare. Carcillo will listen to him.

  5. Matt Bradley

    I had dropped my gloves and was throwing a right when I got dropped. My bad. I should have reacted quicker.

    Also, I hit Carcillo into the boards and he didn’t have a puck. I also tried to get him to fight earlier in the game.

    Shame on me for not being smart enough to recognize the situation.

  6. Pater Laviolette

    Don’t worry guys, I’m going to have Carcillo out of here faster than NSFF’s wife can leave him.

  7. Dan Carcillo

    DAN SMASH! DAN CRUSH! COME FIGHT DAN!

    And you gotta believe I’m rockin’ the pimp ‘stache for the rest of the year. Gotta represent!

    CHEEEEEEEEEEEEEESESTEAK!

  8. Daniel CarCillo

    Man, I AM a moron. Not only to a fight dirty and against the code, I’m just dumber than a brick shit house.

    Has anyone even received 19 Penalty minutes like that before?

    Oh yeah I was lying, Bradley wasn’t even on the ice on my previous shift. So yeah I was totally talking out of my ass when I was making excuses for me acting like a douchebag.

  9. Inigo Montoya

    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

  10. Colin Campbell

    Matt, I’m sorry I couldn’t protect your glass jaw. I’ll make this right.

  11. Mike Milbury

    Come on, hockey nation, everyone’s got to die sometime. Might as well be in a hockey fight.

  12. Paul Holmgren

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz (passed out from doing shots over lunch at The Somerdale)

  13. Pierre McGuire

    Carcillo plays on the same team as Mike Richards. And Mike Richards is a MONSTER.

  14. Mike Richards

    Pierre did I leave my underwear and that extra tube of KY at your apartment last night? I thought you only called me MONSTER, and mean it.

  15. Mike Richards

    P.S. I deserved a suspension for Booth, so I had to do Colly. Sorry Pierre, you will always be my big bald daddy.

  16. ME

    if it weren’t for his 2 recent games against Buffalo and Washington Carcillo would have had less PIMs that Crosby… and not even close to registering in the top 50 NHL PIM leaders

    also, Bradley got caught while throwing a right hook, i’m sure it would have been a decent shot if he hadn’t been 1 punched the F’ out from an undersized player who typically gets tossed around by real fighters. the only good part for Bradley is he probably doesn’t remember the embarassment.

  17. Holst

    What the hell is this retarded “code” that people started talking about five years ago or so? Go back and watch some fights and elbows and stick-swinging duels from the 60s and 70s, and then get back to me about this “code” and “old time” guys having more “respect.”

  18. John T

    Ah, if you watch the video the dude dropped his gloves before he got clocked. Not sure why its wasn’t a standard fight. The moron who didn’t get his hands up fast enough lost. Thats fighting. If you’re gonna drop the gloves, which he did, then come ready to go. Otherwise leave them on and don’t go at all.

  19. Frank Stallone

    Hey “ME” – Bradley was in the middle of throwing a right hook? What fight were you watching? In the one I watched, the screen caps of the fight clearly show Carcillo in the act of throwing the punch before Bradley even had a chance to drop his stick, let alone drop his gloves to fight back.

  20. Geoff

    A good article and there’s no way you can defend Carcillo for his ridiculous antics. I thought it was ridiculous that Bradley wasn’t penalized for fighting. He dropped his gloves and, if you watch the replay was throwing a punch as he was hit. Also, “especially when Matt Bradley picked up nothing… Since all he did was body check Daniel Carcillo cleanly” is not true. He caught Carcillo with a high stick right in front of the ref which he missed. Bradley should not come out smelling like roses. The correct call should have been a 4 minute power play for Washington and off-setting 5s to both Carcillo and Bradley. And to the poster who claims that Carcillo doesn’t follow the code of fighting I’d suggest watching the fight from last Friday’s Flyers v. Sabres game. Carcillo got Rivet down and held up on throwing any more punches. Something we can say of Rivet, and he then rolled Carcillo over and punched him several times in the head as the linesman pinned Carcillo defenselessly on the ice.

    all that said, I wish the Flyers would get rid of him, because he is a man who doesn’t think.

  21. M.C.

    The incident was largely Bradley’s fault. Who goes into a fight with his hands by his side, leaning into the opponent? Bradley should have backed away and set up, but instead he floated towards Carcillo with his hands by his side. Bradley deserved to get punched.

    Carcillo could have waited, sure. It was a cheapshot. But Bradley is an idiot.

  22. Spoonie Luv from up above

    We got enough guys that will throw down the mitts if need be. Hopefully we do away with Carcillo. Don’t need his poor judgment and constant dumb penalties hampering the games anymore.

  23. M.C.

    Carcillo has played with more passion and heart than the rest of the Flyers combined. It may lead to some dumb penalties once in a while, but he has been good for this team up until this suspension.

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  26. Pat Hazelton

    Daniel carcillo is a classy player. Look at his fight against mark Fraser of the devils. He gets him down to a knee but doesn’t finish him. Then look at carcillos second fight against rivet. Danny is pinned under a linesman as rivet is left free and suckers him. Also, last year, the red wings broadcast did a segmant on how zetterberg and datsuck (bad spelling) were throwing their weight around. But all the hits were from behind. (don cherry pointed this out). On the flyers western road trip earleir in the season another teams broadcast (can’t remember who LA or SJ) about all the oppertunities carcillo had to hit players from behind, but nudged them or jumped out of the way instead. The problem with the game is guys like ovi run around slew footing and kneeing but never have to answer by dropping the mitts, just by cutting a check.

  27. Pat Hazelton

    Furthermore, Danny said that Bradley asked him to go earlier in the game so when Danny cross checked him, he should have been ready to go. Remember last year when Crosby jumped Brett McLean? Think he woulda got 9 minutes and four games had he got a lucky punch in? Ya, and the pope is an atheist

  28. Pat Hazelton

    Also, talbot asked Danny to go, he said no but talbot followed him and wouldn’t let it go, so Danny had to fight him. Just shouldn’t of pounded him so hard. Stevens was stupid for putting him out right after the goal.

    P.S. I love the Richards Carter carcillo line when they play together.

  29. Justin

    I think this is rediculous. frankly i think Dan Carcillo is everything that’s RIGHT about hockey. sure he fights, sure he lays on big hits (sometimes uncalled for), that’s why it’s hockey and not field hockey. go watch the WNBA if you’re looking for a squeeky clean sport. he’s a skilled player, and this season you’re idiot if you don’t see that. he always has been. he hustles more than anyone in the orange and black. unlike the “gliders” like carter, gagne, and briere who basically glide around once the puck is inconvenient to get to. that guy doesn’t stop til the whistle blows. the play is never dead for him.
    so go ahead and continue to focus on the “goon” in him. frankly that’s what he’s there for. But he’s much more than that. and talking about the fight with Talbot in the playoffs… you just like the media are a complete tool. flyers had a 3-0 lead, i was there. right behind fluery and i’ve never seen the wachovia center get so crazy. he didn’t lose the game, the pens just out played them. to blame a 3-0 come back on a fight?!?!? you’re a retard.
    this year under laviolette i feel the “dumb” penalties the flyers are taking have drastically been reduced. Carcillo is by far my favorite NHL player. all you haters can suck it! i’ll rock my signed jersey til the day i die!

  30. Pete

    Two nights ago Orr (In my opinion the biggest joke of a tough guy in the NHL) took multiple runs at Carcillo. Carcillo kept his cool which he has been doing recently and forced Orr into the box for four minutes. So basically this writer should state fact and not his personal opinions of the future, because he was completely wrong.

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