Former Chicago Blackhawks winger Daniel Carcillo gave about as meaningful a response as you’ll ever hear from a professional athlete during Q&A. Carcillo speaks from the heart, and he’s true to the game, just like Honest Hockey’s website. “To have a purpose in life, to be selfless, to put others before myself, helps me to stay happy and healthy,” he said at the Sheraton Grand Chicago at the Go Beyond Challenge, an event benefitting the ICE (Inner-City Education) program.
The 31-year-old former left wing was referencing his Chapter 5 Foundation, a non-profit he created upon retirement in 2015 to help former NHL players suffering from post-concussion syndrome and mental health issues.
Some of the players that Carcillo, his wife Ela, and former Blackhawks teammate Ben Eager work with battle anxiety, depression and post-concussion syndrome. Others fight the demons of alcoholism, substance abuse and other acute social ills. Daniel Carcillo and company help these men transition their lives to post-hockey careers.
They have literally saved a couple lives. Asked Thursday night if he has had more success stories like this, he responded:
“We have, but we don’t make them public. If they want to talk about it they are more than welcome.”
Carcillo’s organization is partially inspired by and named for Steve Montador, who wore No. 5 with the Hawks. Carcillo’s best friend in hockey, Montador was found dead in his home at age 35 on February 15th, 2015.
He was a 12-year NHL vet who battled drug and alcohol addiction at certain points in his career. Concussions forced Montador to leave the game in 2013.
— ASSIST (@TheAthleteASST) May 5, 2017
Obviously, Montador’s death deeply impacted Carcillo, who himself also struggled with the adverse effects of concussions. Carcillo has called upon the NHL community to play a much larger role in the lives of ex-players who have suffered concussions, and all the complications that surround them.
In addition to the foundation, Carcillo and Eager also coach teenagers on Team Illinois in West Dundee, and own Jet Hockey Training Arena in Glenview, where they offer skating lessons, hockey leagues and open skates.
In his playing days, Daniel Carcillo earned the nickname “Car Bomb” due to the way he played the game with reckless abandon.
Today, it’s a stark contrast and he leads a very busy family life- married with two very young children. He and his wife have a 2 and half year old that he’s trying to potty train and another baby that’s just a month old.
He appeared alongside former Hawks teammate Bryan Bickell at the event benefitting under-privileged children, and he commented on the evening’s deeper meaning
“Without these programs they would never be able to try something like this. They just don’t have the means. Hockey – the reality is – it’s expensive.”
Indeed, hockey is certainly a sport that requires a considerable amount of money to get involved in because the basic equipment can be quite expensive, especially so for children.
The kids at the event received a huge thrill Thursday night when they had the opportunity to have their photos taken with the Stanley Cup trophy. Carcillo won two of Lord Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks, in 2013 and 2015.
Carcillo was also asked for his predictions on the current playoffs, and he sees the current defending championsPittsburgh Penguins coming out of the Eastern Conference. He predicted (at least we can imply) the team which eliminated the Chicago Blackhawks, the Nashville Predators, to represent the Western Conference.
“Pittsburgh, and I won’t say the other one, but I don’t dive head first into (watching and analyzing) the playoffs,” he said
Then came a query about the latest news regarding concussions, CTE and the National Hockey League’s stances on these issues.
— Paul M. Banks ???? (@PaulMBanks) May 4, 2017
“I don’t know if I want to touch on that right now,” he responded.
“It’s all good, you’re just doing your job, I just kind of want to focus on this right now, but we’re going to have this summer, with the foundation and stuff a few fundraisers, I’ll let you know about and maybe we can reconvene when it’s (the event) focused on that.”
It was anything but a dodge, as Carcillo is very passionate about speaking up on this topic, and he certainly plans to do so in the near future. Once the recording devices were off, he even touched on it a little bit. As it was off-the-record, we’ll just have to leave it there.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes to WGN CLTV and KOZN.