Daniel Carcillo suspended for two games for hit on Joni Pitkanen

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By Ben Meyer-Abbott bmeyer-abbott@suntimes.com

Twitter: @BMACST

Though he wasn’t called for a penalty on the play, the NHL wanted to have more than just a word with Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo about his hit on the Carolina Hurricanes’ Joni Pitkanen.

Carcillo had a disciplinary hearing Saturday afternoon before Joel Quenneville told reporters his player was suspended for two games shortly before the Hawks’ game Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the United Center.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow right now,” Carcillo said. “I thought I was doing a pretty good job of making safe hits, I’ve never been suspended for a hit [before] and I’ve made hundreds every year.”

Carcillo did not detail what he said to the league in his defense, but told reporters he didn’t think twice about the play at the time.

“[Pitkonen] was trying to shield me from the puck and he was doing his job and I don’t really know what else I could have done in that situation to make it less careless or less reckless the way they described it,” Carcillo said. “He lost his edge and he went down and here I am sitting out two games.”

Quenneville said he was notified after the game the league would be reviewing the play, though he agreed with the referee’s decision not to call a penalty.

“I watched the play and you can look at the play and [Pitkanen] is off balance before there’s contact in my eyes. That’s how I saw it,” Quenneville said. “So whether he touched him or not he was going down prior to getting hit.”

Carcillo is suspended for the games Saturday against the Blue Jackets and Monday against the Nashville Predators, which means he will have missed four of his first 11 games of his Hawks’ career when he is eligible to return to the lineup. But Quenneville doesn’t feel as though Carcillo has been out of control.

“He’s been good, he’s been effective in a lot of ways,” Quenneville said. “His scrutiny when he’s on the ice is a lot tighter or his leash for what he can and cannot do is very short.

“I think he knows that and that’s something we’ll always be aware of as we go forward and I don’t think we want to have him slowing down how he plays the game and finding that balance in the situation, I think his reputation might have been part of it as well.”

The hit occurred less than two minutes into the first period of the Hawks 3-0 loss to the Hurricanes at the RBC Center on Friday. Pitkanen raced back to get to the puck to the left of his own net with Carcillo following behind him before he appeared to push the Hurricanes’ forward from behind.

Pitkanen crashed into the boards with Carcillo tumbling on top of him. No penalty was called.

Pitkanen left the ice but eventually returned to the game and played the most minutes of any Hurricanes’ player.

Carcillo declined to go into if he felt like he had to change how he plays, but said the suspensions NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan is handing down mean players have to be much more aware on the ice.

“The biggest thing is you have to think now before you hit,” Carcillo said. “Once you start thinking you’re not playing the game the right way. You have to react in this game just because everything is so quick.”

Carcillo was previously suspended four times for a total of 10 games, including the first two games of this season for an incident with officials between periods during last season’s playoffs as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.

“There’s not too much leeway for me in this league,” Carcillo said. “Maybe give some serious thought into changing my last name or something.”

Carcillo also caused two other players – including one of his teammates – to miss time as well during the game Friday.

Patrick Kane was mistakenly called for a double-minor high-sticking penalty 14:27 into the first that was in fact committed by Carcillo on Hurricanes captain Eric Staal.

Staal missed the final five minutes of the period before returning early in the second. The Hawks successfully killed off the double-minor with Kane in the penalty box.

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