Blackhawks

Daniel Carcillo staying busy by helping out former players and future ones

Daniel Carcillo staying busy by helping out former players and future ones

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.”

Five games to circle: Blackhawks to appear on national TV a league-high 19 times in 2018-19

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USA TODAY

Five games to circle: Blackhawks to appear on national TV a league-high 19 times in 2018-19

Despite missing the playoffs for the first time in a decade, the Blackhawks will appear on national television a league-high 19 times during the 2018-19 season, NBC Sports announced on Monday. Eleven of them will appear exclusively on NBC or NBCSN, with the other eight on NBC Sports Chicago in the Chicago area.

Eight of the 19 games will also land on "Wednesday Night Hockey," which will replace "Wednesday Night Rivalry" as part of NBC Sports' most diverse exclusive schedule to date that will include a total of 109 games. 

Here are five games to circle from the 11 games that will be aired exclusively on national TV, in order of how they appear on the schedule:

1. The new-look Blues — Nov. 14 vs. St. Louis at 7 p.m. on NBCSN

There might not have been a team in the Central Division that had a stronger offseason than the Blues. After failing to secure a postseason berth for the first time since 2010-11, they went out a traded for top-six center Ryan O'Reilly, signed Tyler Bozak to ensure even more depth down the middle, and added power forwards Patrick Maroon and David Perron to round out their top-nine. Not to mention the offensively skilled Robby Fabbri will be returning to the lineup after missing the entire 2017-18 campaign with an ACL injury. It'll be a nice early test for the Blackhawks.

2. Three Cups vs. three Cups — Dec. 12 vs. Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. on NBCSN

Whenever the Blackhawks and Penguins get together it's always a fun battle to watch because there's so much firepower sharing the same sheet of ice: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews. That's five future Hall of Famers right there. There's also the fact that they are tied for most Stanley Cups in the salary cap era with three, adding some extra juice between two teams that don't often see each other.

3. Winter Classic — Jan. 1 vs. Boston at 12 p.m. on NBC at Notre Dame Stadium

For the sixth time in franchise history, the Blackhawks will appear in an outdoor game. But they haven't had much luck in those games, losing four of the previous five, including all three of their Winter Classic appearances. The Bruins are 1-1 in outdoor games and will look to break the .500 mark in a rematch of the memorable 2013 Stanley Cup Final — at least for the city of Chicago — and Original Six showdown.

4. The defending champion Capitals come to town — Jan. 20 at 11:30 a.m. on NBC

Any time the reigning champions visit your city, it's a game you know you can't take off. Especially since it's the Game of the Week. Alex Ovechkin fell one goal shy of hitting the 50-goal mark for the eighth time in his NHL career at age 32 last season, but it was still good enough to win his seventh "Rocket" Richard Trophy. More importantly, he scored 15 goals and added 12 assists in 24 postseason contests to help lead the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup and took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs while doing so. He's still the greatest goal scorer in hockey — perhaps even of all time — and that's a reason in and of itself why it's a must-watch, even though in his last game against Chicago he was held without a shot attempt for the first time in his NHL career.

5. Rekindling an old rivalry with Red Wings — Feb. 20 at Detroit at 6:30 p.m. on NBCSN

Ever since the NHL realigned the divisions in 2013-14, the Blackhawks and Red Wings get to see each other only twice per season — once at home and once on the road. No two teams in NHL history have squared off more than these two, so it's certainly been an adjustment. But fans know how deep this rivalry goes, and every time they do clash, there's a playoff-like atmosphere in the building and you can feel it through your television screen as well. This will likely be no different.

Check out the Blackhawks' full national television schedule here:

Remembering Stan Mikita: Through the eyes of a Blackhawks fan

Remembering Stan Mikita: Through the eyes of a Blackhawks fan

I grew up at the Chicago Stadium.

My early memories included walking up the winding stairwell to the first balcony. Sixty nine total steps (I looked it up), but for a young kid, it seemed like a thousand.

Section G, Row B, Seats 1-4. On the corner, where the Blackhawks shot twice…my dad’s season tickets for more than 35 years.

Back then, the majority of home games were on Sunday and Wednesday nights.
 
Early on, we would leave halfway through the third period because I usually had school the next day. That eventually changed as my dad realized I was turning into a diehard Blackhawks fan, and didn't want to miss one minute. Monday and Thursday mornings were a struggle waking up, but well worth it to stay until the final horn the night before.
 
Hockey nights at the stadium were an education for me. Learning the game that I grew up to love, memorizing all the players’ names, the numbers on the sweaters, and learning ‘new’ words from fans sitting around us yelling at the referee.

But it was more than just the game that I came to appreciate — it was the history of the stadium and the team.
 
As a kid not even 10 years old, my eyes and mind wandered around the stadium. The bright lights, the unique sound of the pipe organ, the vendor yelling ‘beer man’, I soaked it all in.

There was a gentleman who had season tickets down the row from us who liked to drink his beer, and when he would squeeze through the aisle with a refill, he would yell ‘hot coffee’, so people would give him room to walk. Everyone laughed.

That memory is still fresh today, along with the fan who showed up to every game with a Blackhawks jersey over the button down collared dress shirt he wore to work earlier in the day.
 
The banners that hung from the rafters: Norris Division winners, Campbell Conference championships, Stanley Cup titles, and two lone banners with 21 and 9 sewn on them. This is when I began learning about Stan Mikita the man, not just the hockey player.
 
It took me until now to realize that my dad loved talking the game of hockey with me, because it gave him a chance to talk about his hockey heroes when he was a kid. At the age of 21, my dad experienced the 1961 championship with Mikita and Bobby Hull raising the cup.
 
He taught me about the game, but also shared stories about his favorite players. Mikita was one of them. He was a great stick handler and could skate around players with ease.

Years after his retirement, while we were at a charity game, Mikita took the ice with a puck tied to his stick. Just like in his prime, no one could steal the puck from No. 21.

While my dad saw him rack up franchise records in games (1,396), assists (926) and points (1,467), I witnessed more of his off-ice contributions to the community and charities.

What seemed like a lifetime ago, but probably 30 years, we would drive to ice arenas like the ‘Skatium’ in Skokie and Northbrook Sports Center to watch Blackhawk alumni and current players take on a team made up of hearing impaired players. 

They were light-hearted games, but you knew both teams wanted to win. Even though Mikita had been retired for years, it was special to see him on the ice. I wish I would have appreciated it more at the time.

My dad explained to me about Stan’s involvement with the hearing impaired. After learning a teammate’s son was born partially deaf, Mikita was determined to start a hockey school that eventually evolved into the American Hearing Impaired Association.
 
His charity work started during his career, and continued on a larger scale after he hung up the skates. A lot of players fade out of the limelight after retirement, but it was the exact opposite for Mikita. I think my dad grew to respect Mikita even more after his playing career.

Like thousands of Blackhawk fans I was saddened to hear of Mikita's passing last Tuesday.

The news hit me harder than I thought it would, because I realized the impact Stan had on the relationship with my dad growing up. I am grateful for all the experiences early in my life, and miss them at the same time.

No one lives forever, but I wish some of the great ones could.