David Clarkson is facing his former team on Sunday as his Toronto Maple Leafs square off against the New Jersey Devils, so maybe he can be excused for looking back at brighter times. He didn’t sugarcoat how poorly his debut season has been going to The Bergen Record before tonight’s game.
“(Am I) happy with the way things have gone?” Clarkson asked. “No, there’s no way I’m happy. A 10-game suspension, you’re behind the eight ball. I’m a big believer in first impressions and mine is sitting in the press box up here while everyone gets 10 games in and then you’re trying to catch up. The first 10 games of the season is really when you get out and the season gets going. For me, that didn’t happen and then you’re playing catch up. You’re trying to get back in. Certain things were working. The team was winning.
“So, it’s been a very tough year with all the little things that have gone on throughout the year …”
It’s not just that suspension, either, as the 29-year-old has dealt with another suspension, injuries and inconsistent play to work himself into various “worst free agent signings” lists. He still doesn’t have more points (eight coming into Sunday) than games lost to that first suspension.
If nothing else, he has some sympathy from former teammate Martin Brodeur.
“He’s not a guy that will score tons of goals or is going to be really spectacular,” Brodeur said. “He’s a guy that’s going to fight for his teammates and do a lot of different things out there to make his team successful and just make sure he doesn’t forget that. Even though he doesn’t get the attention maybe he was getting in New Jersey, it will come for him. I’m pretty positive of that.”
Even Clarkson would admit that Brodeur is one of the few who are overly optimistic about his chances of bouncing back, but one may also argue that it only goes up from here.