Former Chicago Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo hasn’t played in the NHL since retiring in 2015, but he’s still been an active member of the hockey world in the three years that have followed his final game.
And Monday night, Carcillo took to Twitter to air some of his frustrations with the NHL, the NHL Players’ Association and its ongoing issues in dealing with head injuries.
Soon after Carcillo retired, he established the Chapter 5 Foundation, which lists its mission statement as: “to help athletes discover their new purpose and transition into life after the game.”
Carcillo started the organization after the unexpected death of Steve Montador, a close friend and former teammate of Carcillo’s who died in February 2015 after experiencing significant mental health issues following a concussion-laden NHL career. Montador was later diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the degenerative brain condition that has been linked with repetitive head trauma in boxing, football and hockey.
Along with the organization, Carcillo has been advocating for better treatment of retired NHL players along with more awareness for what the league can do to help combat this issue with its active players. Carcillo has had multiple articles featured on the Players’ Tribune website detailing his relationship with Montador and his own personal struggles, some of which were also explained in this 2017 Chicago Tribune article.
Sometime after those Players’ Tribune articles, Carcillo got in touch with the NHLPA, specifically Rob Zamuner and Mathieu Schneider, both former players who work in the NHLPA. Carcillo explained the rest from there:
So, about a year and a half into my retirement, after I’d done 2 Players Tribune PVOs, mostly about calling out the @NHL and the @NHLPA to better take care of the human beings who are under their care, I got a call from Rob Zamuner & Matthieu Schneider from the #NHLPA #compliant— Daniel Carcillo (@CarBombBoom13) March 6, 2018
They requested that I come into the @NHLPA offices in Toronto to speak about (I had thought at the time) finding common ground and possibly sharing ideas on how to move the ball forward when it comes to transition programs for players-both current and former. One week before— Daniel Carcillo (@CarBombBoom13) March 6, 2018
the scheduled meeting, I sent Rob Zamuner a copy of an NDA and requested that he pass it onto the @NHLPA lawyers 4 approval. I felt more comfortable speaking to them about my research over the past 18 months if we had a mutual agreement in place that our ideas would stay our own— Daniel Carcillo (@CarBombBoom13) March 6, 2018
He assured me he would. I felt comfortable enough to book a flight after that email exchange. I felt wrong. The night before my scheduled flight, Rob Zamuner emailed me and informed me that they couldn’t get the NDA in front of one of their lawyers in time and if that meant I— Daniel Carcillo (@CarBombBoom13) March 6, 2018
didnt want to move forward with the meeting, then they understood. I don’t know the exact number of lawyers working within the @NHLPA but I do know that 7 days was a sufficient amount of time for one of those suits to review a 3 page NDA and have the respect to give me an answer— Daniel Carcillo (@CarBombBoom13) March 6, 2018
Players beware...cannot be a good omen when the first 3 letters of your union @NHLPA are the same as the league you play in @NHL #compliant #CTE when asked recently what #DonaldFehr thought about 99 getting more involved in creating a REAL program for guys, he responded with a— Daniel Carcillo (@CarBombBoom13) March 6, 2018
question...#DonaldFehr asked “who is 99?” Suspect leader. Just another suit worried about navigating the politically correct landscape that is the @NHLPA and @NHL https://t.co/JIx5tZ56w1 #TIMETODOBETTERDONALD #CTE— Daniel Carcillo (@CarBombBoom13) March 6, 2018
Fehr is the executive director of the NHLPA, taking over that role about one year after handling the same role for Major League Baseball’s players union from 1985 to 2009. And neither Fehr nor the NHLPA have released any public statements responding to Carcillo’s comments.
Carcillo continued to rail against Fehr on Twitter on Tuesday and tweeted at Wayne Gretzky to come forward in defense of former NHL players who are suffering with injuries sustained during their careers.
The NHL has yet to acknowledge a link between the ailments such as CTE and the physical nature of hockey, as reported by HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel in a 12-minute piece that aired March 1. It’s the same video that Carcillo mentioned in his final tweet posted above and it includes some rather damning evidence against the NHL and commissioner Gary Bettman, who is shown multiple times in that segment, denying that hockey is the reason for the long-term health issues facing some of the league’s former players.
It’s something that every hockey fan should consider taking sometime to watch.