Blackhawks left winger Daniel Carcillo has been enjoying checking both opposing players and his own teammates on the boards this season.
On the ice, he's the team enforcer; protecting his line with such ferocity that the NHL has kept a close eye on his aggressive play. But when the skates come off, the 28-year-old Canadian whose reputation in the rink has earned him the nickname "Carbomb" has taught teammates a different game.
"He taught me how to play chess the other day," said team captain Jonathan Toews, who said he had never played chess in his life. "Now we're playing chess on our iPhones, Chess with Friends. I went up on him the other day 1-0. But he's been beating me ever since."
Even with the reputation of "team hipster"—as he's dubbed by Toews for his love of music, trendy clothes and love of culture and art—Carcillo isn't letting anything get in the way of his job as enforcer when he's skating for the Hawks. It's a job he's had since he came into the league, he said, and one that comes "naturally" to him. With a no-fear attitude when it comes to defending his teammates, a hit from this "hipster"--whose Twitter handle is @CarBombBoom13--is going to hurt.
"Nobody is going to be taking advantage of [my teammates] when I am on the ice," Carcillo said. "You can't be guarded out there, you can't be thinking too much. It's a fast game and it's a game of reaction. The way I play, it's such a physical matter; there can't be any doubt."
His rough-and-tumble style is well-documented. In the 2007 season with Phoenix, he spent a league-high 324 minutes in the penalty box. At the 2010 Winter Classic while with Philadelphia, he correctly predicted he would be involved in the first outdoor hockey brawl. He also was suspended seven games and tore an ACL in early 2012 with the Hawks after a brutal hit on Edmonton's Tom Gilbert that injured them both.
Though he has only one goal this season, it was a game-winner March 6 that extended the Hawks' historic points streak to 24 games. That celebration made him the focal point of the March 18 Sports Illustrated cover, which heralded his team as the saving grace of hockey in a strike-shortened season.
"I'm just glad they got my good side," he said of the cover, in which his back is to the camera. "Everyone else seems more excited about it than I am. I don't really get excited about magazine covers."
What Carcillo is enthusiastic about—besides helping his team win, of course—is music. In 2011, Carcillo hosted several hourlong music specials for WGN titled "The Bomb Shelter."
In his free time, he's visited Michael Jackson's home in Gary, Ind., spent time in blues clubs in Chicago and plans to make a return to massive Bonnaroo music fest in Tennessee.
"He's one of those guys that's all about a good Zen and chill," fellow enforcer Brandon Bollig said. "You need a guy like that. We definitely have a lot of characters on this team and that's just something that he's into. He's a cool guy and he's fun to be around, and he's hilarious."
Defenseman Duncan Keith agrees.
"He likes his music, he's a little bit out there, he likes to put himself out there," he said. "I don't know how you define a hipster, but he's definitely got a lot of good characteristics."
Carcillo said he expects the games get tougher as the playoffs approach in the 48-game season. The mindset of the team is similar in many ways to when he was a member of the 2009-10 Philadelphia Flyers, who fell to the Hawks in the Stanley Cup finals.
"We've been down in most of our games and we come back, and that was something that was huge in Philly. We had two-, three-goal deficits, and we came back from a 0-3 series when I was there," he said.
"I see a lot of good things and character in the room, which is huge. You need that grittiness and you need to play teams hard, and that's something we can do in this room. There's great leadership in scoring, we've got great goaltending right now, and it all has to come together."RedEye Sports' Facebook page.