Former Toronto Maple Leafs forward David Clarkson knows better days are ahead despite bumpy start with Columbus Blue Jackets

 

 
 
 
 
If all goes well, David Clarkson, left, should make his regular season debut on Friday, fittingly, against the Maple Leafs.
 
 

If all goes well, David Clarkson, left, should make his regular season debut on Friday, fittingly, against the Maple Leafs.

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COLUMBUS, OHIO – When he accepted a trade that moved him to the Blue Jackets, David Clarkson envisioned a fresh start. A clean slate from the issues that plagued him during his nearly two-season tenure with the Maple Leafs.

It hasn’t quite followed that script.

“My wife is probably getting sick of me, to be honest with you, being at the house,” Clarkson said. “But I felt pretty good.”

Thursday marked David Clarkson’s first full practice since suffering lower-back and groin issues during the pre-season. Barring any setback after a day’s rest, he should be set to make his regular season debut on Friday, fittingly, against the Maple Leafs.

Clarkson was traded by the Leafs last February after agreeing to waive his no-movement clause in exchange for a fresh start away from the suspensions and injuries that marred his tenure in Toronto. His redemption story would only last three games before he was shut down with tears in his oblique muscle.

“The injury was tough, I hadn’t done something like that in my career,” said Clarkson. “To have that big of a tear, and two of them. I tried to play the next night and didn’t realize I had done that much damage until we had an MRI. That obviously is a tough tough pill to swallow after everything that went on in Toronto.”

In addition to the injuries, Clarkson drew the attention of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety after a knee-on-knee collision with Minnesota Wild forward Justin Fontaine in pre-season action in September. Clarkson was assessed a major penalty for kneeing and a game misconduct with just over a minute played in the contest. He narrowly avoided suspension. Fontaine wasn’t hurt on the play.

Despite his bad luck continuing in Columbus, Clarkson remains upbeat. He is likely to make his season debut on the team’s fourth line, playing on the right-wing to forwards William Karlsson and Gregory Campbell.

Morale is at an all-time low in Columbus with the team off to a franchise worst 0-4-0 record to start the season. Any change, including one where Clarkson can try to show up his former team, could be just what the doctor ordered.

Everybody in life … goes through ups and downs. It’s how you handle them and it’s how you come out of them and I believe in this room

“Everybody in life … goes through ups and downs,” said Clarkson. “It’s how you handle them and it’s how you come out of them and I believe in this room.”

There are no regrets, although the possibility of ‘what if’ is certainly interesting.

What if Clarkson was still a member of the Maple Leafs? His mentor in New Jersey was Lou Lamoriello (now GM of the Leafs), where Clarkson enjoyed his most productive years.

“I’m still close with Mr. Lamoriello,” said Clarkson.  “He’s somebody that I wouldn’t be sitting in this stall today (if it weren’t for him). In life, we all have somebody that believes us to be where we are. I was a kid in high school and I didn’t know what I was going to do. I wasn’t drafted. It was just one of those situations where I met him and he flew me down and I shook his hand and I wanted to be a part of that.”

Being born and raised in Toronto’s west end, Clarkson can’t escape the reality of his tenure in Toronto. He still keeps on eye on what has been happening in his hometown, including the Jays playoff run.

“Just knowing some of them personally from being there for so long, it was pretty special. It gave you that goosebumps feeling, it was pretty special to see them do that I was pretty excited.”

As for the Leafs, he feels that the team he grew up watching is on the right track.

“I’ve always said it was a good locker room with what gets said and what goes on there. They’ve got a good group of guys. I still talk to five or six of them once a week, if not more. It was a hard decision to leave but I think for me in my time and my career in my life, I think it was the right thing to happen.”

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If all goes well, David Clarkson, left, should make his regular season debut on Friday, fittingly, against the Maple Leafs.
 

If all goes well, David Clarkson, left, should make his regular season debut on Friday, fittingly, against the Maple Leafs.

 
If all goes well, David Clarkson, left, should make his regular season debut on Friday, fittingly, against the Maple Leafs.
Clarkson was traded by the Leafs last February after agreeing to waive his no-movement clause in exchange for a fresh start away from the suspensions and injuries that marred his tenure in Toronto.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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