In July, it seemed like the hockey world couldn’t get enough of David Clarkson. He was one of the most coveted free agents in the NHL, and made a big splash when he deiced to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The deal was a big one, and the seven-year, $36.75 million contract raised more than a few eyebrows around the league.
After all, the kind of money made Clarkson as well paid as David Krejci, Evander Kane and Marian Hossa among others. Those are some elite players with some top-end talents, and the Leafs thought that the 6’1″, 200 pound winger was the kind of guy they wanted on the roster.
Then he jumped off the bench to stick up for a teammate during the preseason, which is an automatic 10-game suspension.
While the incident was the talk of the town before the season kicked off, it’s been all but forgotten as the Leafs have played very well early on. They are 7-3 and are among the stronger and tougher-to-play-against squads in the league.
Add Clarkson into the mix and they just get more abrasive and hard to fight off down low. That’s exactly what Toronto will be looking for out of the rugged forward as they insert him into the lineup for Friday’s tilt against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Don’t expect Clarkson to try and do too much in his first game back though.
Michael Traikos of the Toronto National Post spoke to Clarkson about that very thing:
That’s one thing I can’t do. It’s easy when you’ve been suspended to come back in the lineup and try to do overdo things.
I just have to try and take it step-by-step and do what I was brought here to do, which is take the puck to the net, play physical and be good in my own zones. Do all those things and not do too much. I’m just going to come here and play the way I have my whole career.
Folks have been waiting for Toronto to slow down all season and they’ve yet to. The addition of Clarkson will be a massive boost to an already-potent offense, and this team will be an even tougher out moving forward.