CHICAGO -- There are plenty of reasons for Daniel Carcillo's hot start with the Blackhawks, but the biggest one of all may be the motivation the left winger gained this summer after the Philadelphia Flyers chose not to re-sign him.
"It kind of lit a fire under my butt when another team doesn't want to sign you," Carcillo said after Friday afternoon's practice. "You want to prove to yourself and to other people that you can play at a high level in this league."
Carcillo has been a pleasant surprise over the first few games this season. He racked up his second assist of the season in Thursday night's win over the Colorado Avalanche and has quickly made a name for himself in the Blackhawks locker room.
The desire to prove to the Flyers and other teams that they missed out by not signing him is very strong, but as Carcillo is quick to point out, it doesn't hurt to be playing on a line with Marion Hossa and Patrick Kane, either.
"They're two of the best players in this league," Carcillo said. "It's a privilege to be able to play with them. Every day I come to the rink, I'm focused and I'm ready, and I want to do everything I can to stay on that line."
The production on that line is something which has certainly caught coach Joel Quenneville's eye.
"He's played well since he started the season with us," Quenneville said. "That line, on a game-to-game basis when Hossa's been with them, that line's been very dangerous. Puck possession time, zone time, gives a different look with him on it.
"With Kaner and Hossa [they] seem to find those plays where they just know where each other are. That puck possession game and that cycle game. Danny can be at the net, but he also the ability to make and see plays ... he sees plays, makes plays and finishes his checks so I think he complements those guys in a different way."
The 26-year-old is happy that Quenneville and the Hawks have given him a chance to show that he is more than just a bruiser who racks up penalty minutes.
"I just think they needed to address some things," Carcillo said. "Whether that be on the physical side of the puck and that's something that I can bring to this team. But that's not the only thing I can bring to this team and I think [general manager] Stan [Bowman] realized that, and he has confidence in me as well as the coach to be able to play with those two guys.
"But first and foremost, I need to be physical and I need to be on the puck and getting them the puck and getting to the net and getting to those hard areas. I'm not going to be a guy coming across the blue line that's going to toe drag somebody or anything like that. All the guys here, they're young and fun, everyone likes having fun around here. It's light. I'm definitely a guy that likes to keep it fun and light in the room."
Carcillo understands that he may never escape the "brawler" label, but he seems to be at peace with that fact in Chicago.
"It takes a long time to turn those types of reputations," he said. "But I don't mind having it. Even when you're in warm up and you see guys looking at you ... normally I don't get to play against second line guys, first line guys, and they're used to playing against guys that carry the puck, don't hit, make plays, it's just kind of a possession game.
"I think when you have somebody that can skate and can hit and they're going to know [that player's] going to be barreling down on them and they're not going to have as much time as they usually have, I think it's a big asset."
The more he contributes to a line with Hossa and Kane, the easier it will be for him to shed that tag in the future.
"I've been in this league for a minute now and you know when to fight and when we don't need to fight and right now I'm getting an opportunity to play," he said. "What would I rather be doing? Sitting in the box for five minutes or playing in a game with All-Stars? It's a pretty easy decision."
Carcillo is enjoying his moment and he appears to have already created a niche for himself with the Blackhawks, something that few in the NHL could have guessed before the season started.
"I worked really hard this summer," Carcillo said. "It's not every day that you get a fresh start in a new organization, especially in an organization like this. That was something that I focused on, just wanted to come in and be in good shape, and get a good start to the year."