Life After Hockey: Daniel Carcillo and Chapter 5

Most people know Daniel Carcillo as a NHL player with a propensity for fighting and playing “tough guy” enforcer. When he is not on your team, Carcillo is one of those players you love to hate (often times opposing fans calling him a “jerk” or worse), but one you learn to love when he’s on it. Personally, I must admit I too occasionally got aggravated when I felt the enforcement unnecessary or callous.

Regardless,  at least during his time with the Chicago Blackhawks in both the 2012-2013 and 2014-2015 seasons, he certainly seemed to enjoy that role, if not embrace it. However, what most do not know, including this author,  is that he was hit especially hard by two hockey related events that have significantly impacted his life off the ice.

Two Events Change Carcillo

Both events have to do with his good friend, and now deceased NHL player Steve “Monty” Montador. The first event occurred in 2013 when the NHL lockout occurred, and the two found themselves lost and struggling to cope with not being in the routine of playing hockey. This makes sense. Think about how you would feel if you were suddenly unable to work and perform in your career and had no back-up plan whatsoever.

The second event was more personal, and devastating to Carcillo – the death of Steve Montador on February 15, 2015. It was later determined that Montador had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., a disease associated with repeated hits to the head. Carcillo, knowing that Montador struggled mentally with trying to adjust to life after leaving the game, created a video eulogy calling for a support system to be put in place once a player’s career ended.  Watch it here:

YouTube player

Carcillo Launches Chapter 5

The video resonated so well with players and families of all ages, that he decided he would be the one to make a difference. In a tap of the stick to Montador, Carcillo launched Chapter 5. As stated right at the top of the web site www.chapter5foundation.com “Chapter 5 is a non-profit that will help athletes find a new purpose and transition into life after the game”. In reference specifically to Montador, Carcillo states “I know Monty struggled with not identifying himself as an athlete anymore, and just the thought of it makes me realize that I will struggle with it as well”. Chapter 5 begins to work with athletes by assessing their interests and strengths.  The goal is then to link these together and identify potential new career paths for athletes unable to play the game any longer. The number “5” in Chapter 5 – that is Montador’s uniform number.

I had the opportunity to meet with Daniel and learn more about Chapter 5 at the official launch party on August 30th in Chicago. The foundation is still in its infancy and there is much work to be done, including more fundraising.  When asked if he planned on playing hockey this upcoming season, he just smiled and said “I think I am done”.  Thus, it appears that Carcillo may now be one of the first athletes to utilize all that Chapter 5 has to offer

Please don’t think that Carcillo has lost his fight and passion for standing up for his teammates. It is absolutely still there, and you can see it in his eyes and hear it in his words when he speaks of the next Chapter in his life.  But Daniel Carcillo callous or a jerk? Nah, he’s as soft and caring as they come.  But yes he is still very much a fighter, and that’s a great thing for fans and players alike.