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Injury, suspension could keep Carcillo out a while

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO -- Daniel Carcillo's health prognosis is still not certain for the Chicago Blackhawks, but initial reports coming from Hawks coach Joel Quenneville don't sound all that encouraging.

Carcillo was injured on Monday night at the United Center while delivering an illegal hit to Edmonton Oilers defenseman Tom Gilbert in the second period of Chicago's 4-3 loss. Both players were hurt on the play and didn't return to the game, but Carcillo's appeared to be worse -- he got his left leg caught up under the fallen Gilbert.

The Hawks haven't released any official updates about Carcillo's status since the injury happened, but in the meantime the League took action to suspend Carcillo indefinitely for the hit until a hearing about the incident is held. It's Carcillo's sixth suspension and third that he'll serve this season, but for now the potential injury is what's of most concern for Chicago.

"We're still talking about the options with him," Quenneville said. "He had some tests done (Tuesday) and we're still evaluating it."

Asked if those options include surgery, Quenneville only answered, "We'll see," after Wednesday's practice at the United Center. It was just the second game back from a suspected concussion that kept Carcillo out for six games.

He came back and played left wing on the Hawks' top line with captain Jonathan Toews at center and Marian Hossa on the right wing.

"We just got him back and Carce is playing really well with Hoss and I," Toews said. "He was bringing that physical presence and he got the crowd going the other night with a fight against (Detroit's Todd Bertuzzi). He made a couple big plays in the offensive zone, too, so we want to keep a guy like that in our lineup. He's an effective player for us and we always say if we lose one of our key guys, we'll find a way to play without him … but it's no fun when that happens."

Carcillo has scored 2 goals and added 9 assists with a plus-10 rating, including a primary assist on Monday to set up Toews for his 22nd goal of the season.

However, it's been a turbulent debut season in Chicago for Carcillo after he signed a one-year contract as a free agent last summer. He started out serving a two-game suspension for an incident that occurred between periods of his final playoff game last spring with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Then he was assessed a second two-game suspension for an illegal hit from behind on Oct. 28 against Carolina's Joni Pitkainen. A League hearing will determine how long this next suspension will last, but that penalty might have to be enforced after Carcillo gets back from a long-term absence because of an injured leg.

Carcillo has not been made available to speak with reporters, but Quenneville was asked on Wednesday what his mood is like given the circumstances.

"I would assume that he's not too happy," Quenneville said.

The Hawks are standing behind him as a teammate, but his latest hit also puts them in a difficult situation of sorts after some of them called for the League to crack down even more against illegal hits this season.

"It's tough to tell, just because you know the guy and he is a friend and he's your teammate," Toews said of Carcillo's hit on Gilbert. "Again, it is a dangerous spot. We've been talking about these suspensions and head shots and different places where we have to be careful. Obviously, maybe he has a bit of a reputation, so that might play into it ... but you stand behind him. He's a physical player. He's going out there trying to create energy for our team, so it's unfortunate both players kind of came out of it with an injury."
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