By Stu Hackel
At what point does the NHL really decide to get serious about suspensions? Brendan Shanahan gave the Blackhawks' Daniel Carcillo a mere seven games for yet another illegal and dangerous play this week. Given Carcillo's record as a multiple offender, he probably deserves to sit out at least twice that number.
Here's a player who likely has a longer rap sheet than any current NHLer. Nine times he has been handed supplemental discipline, including five previous suspensions. He was banned for only two games in October for shoving Carolina's Joni Pitkanen head-first into the boards on this play:
Carcillo whined that he was being picked on because he had so many priors. We wrote at the time, "Carcillo’s record, and all the records of all the players in the league have to matter. There are, the league continually states, only a handful who continually cross the line, whose behavior during games jeopardizes the legitimate physical play that all fans enjoy. These few guys — and Carcillo is one — can’t restrain themselves and don’t have a concept of the boundaries of what is and is not acceptable in an NHL game."
And we argued that banning him for a mere two games was inadequate, writing, "It doesn’t seem that Carcillo has gotten the message yet and it’s questionable whether this little vacation will change that."
It obviously didn't.
Sure enough, the player who calls himself Car Bomb exploded into the Oilers' Tom Gilbert on this play. We'll let Brendan Shanahan run you through it.
This guy is so out of control, he not only injured Gilbert, but himself as well. It appears that Carcillo may need knee surgery as a result of his reckless play. He can't even begin his suspension until he's healthy enough to skate again.
Gilbert, meanwhile, also suffered a knee injury (his ankle doesn't look too good in the above photo, either) and the extent isn't known or being revealed, although Edmonton has called up defenseman Colten Teubert from the AHL to take his spot.
It's possible that this incident never would have occurred had Carcillo been properly punished as a repeat offender earlier this season when he slammed Pitkanen from behind. Back then, we quoted Shanahan's own words from September: “The main marching order I got from people in hockey I bumped into was, ‘It’s the guys that do this all the time that we need to come down on the hardest.’”
And Shanahan said not long afterward “The big thing for me is a player’s history. That to me is something I’ve done so far. If you see my highest suspensions, it is when there are multiple offenses.” In the preseason, he doled out some big bans to repeat offenders, but not when it came to Carcillo and some others after the regular season started.
Shanahan also suspended the Flames' Rene Bourque this week. Bourque's second suspension in 16 days. He got two games for hitting the Blackhawks' Brent Seabrook from behind the first time (video). As a repeat offender, and one who had just been punished, Bourque got five more for this elbow to the jaw of the Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom, who was concussed on the play. Take it away Shanny....
Upping the punishment ante for Bourque was the right call -- and Shanahan probably should have assessed him more than the five games he got. And upping the ante was what Shanahan should have done earlier this season to Carcillo. But it's all too late now for both Gilbert and Carcillo. You'd like to think if Car Bomb had gotten, perhaps, five games for his Pitkanen foul, he might have learned his lesson.
Then again, will seven games really teach him anything? It's possible that no suspension, no matter how long, will ever be a deterrent for players like Daniel Carcillo.