-- NEW YORK -- With New York Rangers forward Daniel Carcillo assessed a 10-game suspension for his actions in the team's 3-2 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, coach Alain Vigneault is concerned the punishment could be career-threatening.
Carcillo was slapped with the hefty ban on Friday for what the league deemed to be a Category II violation of Rule 40.3, Physical Abuse of an Official, after striking NHL linesman Scott Driscoll with his right elbow during the first period of Thursday's game.
The 29-year-old winger, who is a repeat offender with the NHL's Department of Player Safety, may have played his last game as a Ranger. He is an unrestricted free agent heading into this summer, though this incident may impact his future prospects.
"My biggest disappointment in the whole thing is probably what's happening to Dan Carcillo," Vigneault said. "At the end of the day, if the right call is made on the ice, that whole situation doesn't happen. Dan didn't have a penalty on that play. There was no penalty there."
Vigneault fumed about Driscoll, who initiated contact with Carcillo, grabbing his stick in what appeared to be an attempt to prevent him from joining the fray during a fight between Montreal's Brandon Prust and Derek Dorsett. Minutes earlier, Prust rocked Rangers center Derek Stepan with a hit that fractured his jaw. Stepan had surgery Friday.
Carcillo resisted Driscoll, and swung his elbow while trying to break free, striking the linesman and earning himself a game misconduct.
"I still don't understand why Scott grabbed him in that fashion. All Scott had to do was tell him he had a penalty. Dan didn't know he had a penalty. Just, 'Can you come to the box with me? Here, you have a penalty, and it would've been over,'" Vigneault said. "In that split moment of grabbing him like that -- obviously, it's inexcusable what Dan did -- but those situations or incidences put one after the other leads to a young gentleman's career moving forward might be very tough here."
Carcillo politely declined comment on the situation. The NHLPA announced later Saturday that Carcillo will appeal the suspension.
His agent, Kevin Epp, declined to comment.
Carcillo, known as the type of player who brings an edge and is willing to fight, came to New York in a trade back in January. Though he has been in and out of the lineup, he has made some significant contributions this postseason, scoring two goals in the team's first-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The gritty forward, who is leaned on to provide snarl and sandpaper to the Rangers' lineup, has also become a key player in the dressing room. One source told ESPNNewYork.com that he is not only very well-liked but that his presence has "totally changed the chemistry of the team."
Veteran center Brad Richards stuck up for Carcillo Saturday, calling him a "great teammate."
"Ever since he got here, our team has played well and he's been great in the locker room. Heard a lot about him before and don't have one bad thing to say about him as a teammate since he's been here," Richards said. "Like I said, hopefully this will be a good lesson and turn out the right way for him."