Hartnett: Hard-Edged Carcillo Quickly Grows On The Skeptical In Rangers Nation
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By Sean Hartnett
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Dan Carcillo was once despised by Rangers fans as a member of the arch-rival Philadelphia Flyers.
Carcillo’s gapped-tooth smile was reminiscent of Bobby Clarke’s devilish grin. His punishing brand of hockey endeared him to legions of rabid Flyers fans. Everything about the player known as “The Carbomb” aligned with culture of “The Broad Street Bullies.”
After stops in Phoenix, Philadelphia, Chicago and, most recently, Los Angeles, Madison Square Garden is now home to Carcillo’s on-ice havoc.
The Rangers only had to part with a conditional 2014 seventh-round draft pick to obtain Carcillo from the Kings, yet the Blueshirts faithful didn’t exactly welcome Carcillo with open arms.
A considerable number of Rangers fans took to social media to register their disgust at the idea of Carcillo pulling on a Rangers sweater, though it wasn’t long before he began to chip away at the perception that he was simply a “goon for hire.”
Carcillo began winning Rangers fans over during his Jan. 10 Garden debut against the Dallas Stars. Not only did he register eight crushing hits, he did so without spending a single minute in the penalty box.
“The Carbomb” was just starting to whet the appetite of Rangers fans who craved a disrupting force following the loss of winger Derek Dorsett to a broken leg on Jan. 3.
Carcillo was fired up two days later when the visiting Flyers took the Garden ice. His goal just 2:14 in suddenly endeared himself to the fans. All the infamous incidents in orange and black melted away. Carcillo was finally fully embraced by the Rangers’ fan base.
Fans and teammates alike are appreciating the edge that the charged-up Carcillo plays with. Ryan McDonagh said Carcillo is willing to do whatever it takes on the ice.
“We lose Dorsett to an injury. He comes in and fills that role,” McDonagh said. “When the opposition is out there against him, they don’t like seeing him. They’re always checking their shoulder, seeing if he’s coming. He’s a fast skater and he’s feisty. He’s not afraid to go to the hard areas. So, he’s been a great addition to us and a great guy, willing to do whatever it takes.”
Linemate Brian Boyle said he is pleased with the quick chemistry he’s formed with Carcillo and Dominic Moore on the fourth line.
“He’s been great. I think our line’s been pretty good,” Boyle said. “Especially with Dorsett going down, we needed someone to fill that spot. He’s easy to play with. He talks on the ice. We know what he brings. He brings that element.”
VIGNEAULT’S COMMUNICATION WITH CARCILLO HAS BEEN KEY
Carcillo has adapted to his role quickly. A lot of the credit belongs to head coach Alain Vigneault, whose positive feedback has paid off.
In Los Angeles, Carcillo’s role was trimmed significantly. He wasn’t receiving an explanation why his minutes were cut or why he was relegated to the press box.
“He’s really positive,” Carcillo said of Vigneault. “It’s a nice change from where I came from. I found there was no communication (in Los Angeles). He just wants me to get the systems down and get comfortable with our lines.”
Carcillo has quickly found a number of Rangers who’ve made him feel at home. He lives in the same building as Cam Talbot and rides with Talbot and John Moore to practices in Tarrytown.
“I went to dinner the other night with Dorsett and John Moore the other night,” Carcillo said. “Derek’s been great, John’s been great, Dom Moore has been great, as has Boyle. Everyone’s been great with helping me with any questions I’ve had.”
CARCILLO ENJOYING HIS START TO LIFE IN NEW YORK
The 28-year-old winger said he understands the responsibility that comes with playing for the Rangers.
“It’s a storied organization,” Carcillo said. “There’s a lot of history and the fans are very passionate. This city loves the Rangers. When you’re in a situation like that, I think it makes you focus harder and it makes you want to play better at home for them.”
Life in New York is a change of pace for Carcillo, who previously had to endure Los Angeles’ infamous traffic.
“It takes me about 20 minutes to get here by subway,” Carcillo said. “Walking around is nice. It’s a nice change rather than getting in a car every day. It’s different and cool at the same time. The city is a little bit overwhelming, but I’m trying to take it in small steps.”
Carcillo joined teammate Benoit Pouliot on Wednesday at Milbank Dunlevy Center on 118th Street to help promote the game of hockey to a group of 123 kids from the Children’s Aid Society, Harlem Dowling and WHEDCo.
“It’s nice to be with kids, especially ones that may be less fortunate,” Carcillo said. “It was a lot of fun. It’s good to see a hundred kids yelling, smiling and playing together.”
Carcillo and Pouliot helped teach some street hockey basics to the collection of eager kids.
“We showed them simple things like how to hold their hands on the stick properly and how to control the stick,” Carcillo said. “I love working with kids. There’s a certain innocence you lose along the way (as a pro). I had a lot of fun, I know Poulie did, too.”
Follow Sean on Twitter at @HartnettHockey
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