Daniel Carcillo has plenty keeping him busy these days.
At home, he and his wife are parents to a month-old daughter and a 2 ½-year-old son in the potty-training phase – “it’s man-on-man coverage with my son,” he said. There’s also his Chapter 5 Foundation, which helps athletes transition into life after the game, and the Team Illinois Mission U15 AAA team, which Carcillo coaches.
The former Blackhawks forward, who was part of the NHL’s “Go Beyond” event in Chicago on Thursday, is happy in his personal life and giving back to the game, even if he doesn’t really look at it that way.
“I just enjoy being around those kids. It really helps me to kind of ground myself a little bit after being on the business side of it,” Carcillo said of the U15 team. “[They’re] 14, 15 years old, and it’s so funny to be around those kids and listen to what they have to say and the energy they bring. Being able to help them grow, not only in the game but off the ice as people, to get them to have fun, to be good teammates, that’s what I like to emphasize. The development part of it on the ice is a really big focus, and that’s been a challenge for me, going from player to coach. But it’s been a lot of fun.”
Carcillo retired from the NHL in the fall of 2015. He then focused his attention to his Chapter 5 Foundation, named for former Blackhawks forward and Carcillo’s close friend Steve Montador, who died in February 2015. He said the foundation has helped more players – “we don’t make them public though. If they want to talk about it they’re more than welcome,” he said.
Carcillo says he misses some aspects of his playing days.
“I miss the guys, miss the room. Away from hockey, you’re just trying to recreate that outside-of-the-locker-room atmosphere and it’s a little difficult because everyone’s so far away and so busy during the year. You don’t want to feel like a burden. When guys want to connect with you and need the help or just want to talk, they end up reaching out,” Carcillo said. “With my foundation, it’s not much of a formal process. But one of the biggest things with Chapter 5 is building that community so when guys get out of the game they can lean on other guys in a mentorship type of role.”
As for watching hockey, Carcillo has caught some of this year’s playoffs.
“There are some teams surprising people, but the teams that are being successful right now are working hard, outworking other clubs and taking the will away,” he said. “It’s nice to see that. It’s nice to see guys going to the net hard, getting gritty and trying to take the will of the other team away. That’s what has to happen in a seven-game series. You have to take that other team’s will away.”
The Nashville Predators seemed to do just that to the Blackhawks, who were dismissed in a four-game sweep in April. The Predators are now headed to the Western Conference final after eliminating the St. Louis Blues on Sunday afternoon.
Asked if he was surprised at how the Blackhawks lost, Carcillo said, “nothing surprises me hockey-wise, but I think everyone was taken back, just looking at the season they had. They ran into a hot goaltender and [Predators coach Peter] Laviolette, I was on the 2010 [Philadelphia Flyers] team and he can trap it up with the best of them. It was a perfect recipe for Nashville.”
From helping those players ending their careers to those who hope to have one someday, Carcillo’s contributing plenty. His playing days are done but his work with the game isn’t.
“I’m just trying to stay busy and stay around the youth of Chicago,” Carcillo said. “I’m enjoying that part of my job.”