Carcillo shrugs off criticism

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

Daniel Carcillo could care less if Maple Leafs players and their supporters don’t like him.

Nor is he about to apologize for his trademark hands-in-the-air gesture to the crowd after one of his patented scraps, especially his bouts at the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day and against the Leafs last week.

What does bother the Philadelphia Flyers pugilist, however, is the way he has been ripped for his so-called antics by many hockey experts, be it Don Cherry or one of the many panellists on this country’s all-sports networks.

“It kind of irks me what they’ve been saying about me,” Carcillo told the Toronto Sun. “Most of the people on these panels haven’t been in a fight in their life. They’ve never fought in this league. And they don’t have the stones to, either.

“You want to criticize me? Come down and talk to me face-to-face. I’ll be here.”

For those who might want to take Carcillo up on his offer, he’ll be at the Air Canada Centre Thursday, where his surging Philadelphia Flyers will face off against the free-falling Maple Leafs.

The Leafs are on a four-game losing funk, a slippery slope that started with their 6-2 fight-filled loss to the Flyers in Philly eight days ago. And you can thank Carcillo for greasing the skids, if not enraging the Leafs.

The Carcillo show began when he embarrassed three Leafs defenders en route to scoring a spectacular second-period goal, putting the Flyers up 3-0. After tapping gloves with his teammates, he continued past the Leafs bench, mocking the visitors and leering at Toronto’s Colton Orr.

“I probably shouldn’t have done what I did to their bench. I just looked at Orr a bit,” Carcillo said in retrospect, claiming the Leafs winger had rejected his invite to fight earlier in the shift.

The Leafs were not impressed.

“I’d be surprised if he does that again,” Leafs forward Jamal Mayers said Wednesday. “I don’t think his fellow players and coaches were too happy with that.”

Then came a yelling match with Keith Acton. At one point, Carcillo gave the Leafs assistant coach the throat-slash sign, subsequently earning him a $2,500 US fine from the league.

“Obviously, that was dumb,” Carcillo said. “It was not smart on my part. I was caught up in the moment.”

The Leafs would get their revenge. Sort of.

In the third period, Mayers and Carcillo dropped the mitts, with the Leafs winger earning the decision.

That didn’t stop Carcillo, however, from raising his arms again before entering the penalty box, causing the Wachovia Center throng to go bonkers.

“I fought Mayers and I didn’t win,” he said. “But the fans still cheered when I (acknowledged them).”

One person who wasn’t cheering in the building: Jamal Mayers.

“That might be his signature,” Mayers said. “I’m not sure what he’s got going. Maybe he’s got some posters or other merchandise going on on his website.”

The gesture: Two hands raised, pinky and index fingers each pointed up. Carcillo said he borrowed the idea from the WWE’s Wolf Pack. Fittingly, a wrestling analogy.

Carcillo first received heat for showcasing the gesture after he won a scrap with Boston Bruins tough guy Shawn Thornton on Jan. 1, the first-ever fight at a Winter Classic. Not only did he do it on the way to the penalty box, he also flashed it before disappearing into the visitors dugout at Fenway Park at the conclusion of the first period.

“I got a lot of heat from Don Cherry and from some of the panels for doing that,” Carcillo said. “It wasn’t out of disrespect. I just saw a bunch of Flyers fans sitting behind the dugout and wanted to acknowledge them.

“Shawn didn’t feel disrespected. I mean, I gave away 40 pounds to him. I’m a middleweight. And, after the fight, when I made (the gesture), to see 40,000 people jazzed up, amazing.”

As he steps on to the ice at the Air Canada Centre Thursday, keep this in mind: Even though he’s from King City, he grew up a Flyers fan. So jeer him if you want. He couldn’t care.

“I see Chris Pronger booed in every visiting building he plays in,” Carcillo said with a laugh. “And he’s really good.”


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