“It’s easy to have excuses, but you go back to work,” said Clarkson, per the Toronto Sun. “Everybody goes through tough times, tough days and tough years. From top to bottom, that was something I’ve never been through. Suspended, injured and to come back injured again trying to play … it was just a nightmare.”
He ended up with just five goals and 11 points in 60 games, which is obviously not what the Leafs were hoping for when they signed him to a seven-year, $36.75 million contract in the summer of 2013.
Clarkson has gotten a chance to spend time with his young family over the summer, but he’s also focused on his training with Andy O‘Brien, who works with Sidney Crosby among others. He’s had a chance to talk with team president Brendan Shanahan as well, who expects Clarkson to improve substantially in 2014-15.
In spite of what happened, the 30-year-old forward remains equally upbeat.
“Obviously there were a lot of tough breaks that went on for me, but at the end of the day, I feel great and I’m excited for what’s ahead,” Clarkson said. “I’m just looking forward to getting this started.”
Clarkson scored 30 goals with the Devils in 2011-12, but that’s also the only time he even reached the 20-goal mark. He’s a gritty player, but he still needs to prove that he can be a consistent offensive contributor as well.
“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”
In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.
One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.
Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?
Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).
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