LOS ANGELES -- New York Rangers forward Daniel Carcillo thought his season might be over, but having his suspension reduced by the NHL has offered him hope he might have the chance to play in the Stanley Cup Final against the team that traded him five months ago, the Los Angeles Kings.
Carcillo was suspended 10 games for a violation of rule 40.3 for "deliberately applying physical force to an official" for an incident during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Montreal Canadiens (May 22).
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman heard Carcillo's appeal Friday and on Tuesday determined the incident should be reclassified as a violation of rule 40.4 for "physical force to an official for the sole purpose of getting free of such official during or immediately following an altercation." Bettman reduced the suspension to six games.
"I respect the League's decision. Gary called me this morning and said he dropped it down, dropped the category down. That's what I felt should have happened," Carcillo said. "The bottom line is, it is an emotional time of the game and I'm an emotional player and sometimes you cross that line. Obviously, regardless if it is an accident or not, you can't hit an official. I know I was wrong, and I apologized and owned up to my part of it. Like I said, I respect the League's decision."
Carcillo has missed three games because of the suspension, so he will be eligible to return to the lineup for Game 4 of the Final. Had it remained 10 games, he would have been ineligible to return during the Final.
Game 1 is Wednesday at Staples Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).
"It's awesome. It puts a little jump in your step," Carcillo said. "I've been a bit of a dead man walking the last two weeks, or the last week-and-a-half. It was tough. To hear that this morning as soon as you wake up, it just gives a little boost, a little energy. Just to be able to be around the guys in three games will be great. I'm just really encouraged. Like I said, hopefully they don't need me, but it is nice to be able to be around the guys again."
The Rangers acquired Carcillo from the Kings on Jan. 4 for a conditional seventh-round pick. He had one goal and one assist in 26 games for Los Angeles before the trade, and three goals and no assists in 31 games for New York. He scored two goals in eight playoff games.
Carcillo was with the Chicago Blackhawks last season and the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010, so this is his third Stanley Cup Final in five years. Given his time with the Kings, he may be able to help the Rangers prepare.
"They're big and they're well-coached and they're structured, so it is going to be a big challenge," he said. "Obviously we talk about personnel, which I am sure they are going to do as well. I played with all of them for a short period, but a couple of them for a number of years. Just share what I can on them, their tendencies, but I think at this point even if the teams aren't too familiar with each other, everyone has been watching and know what they bring."