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Lost Leaf? Assessing Clarkson’s potential 10-game suspension

Sep 22, 2013, 10:16 PM EDT

clarksoninasuitgetty Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs won their preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 on Sunday, but a huge line brawl could result in some key suspensions. While Phil Kessel‘s understandable-but-violent slashes on John Scott are open to subjectivity, David Clarkson leaving the bench seems primed to garner an automatic 10-game suspension.

The loss is big in ways that are both obvious and a little more subtle.

The obvious: Clarkson, 29, will need to wait quite some time to make his Leafs regular season debut. That 10-game suspension means he wouldn’t play a meaningful game until a road game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 25. His first home game would be the following night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After the game, Leafs coach Randy Carlyle admitted to reporters that Clarkson made a mistake and “now we pay for it.”

The subtle: Worse yet, a suspension doesn’t take Clarkson’s $5.25 million salary cap hit off the books, as Bill Daly confirmed to Broad Street Hockey.*

The Buds are already in a bind with Cody Franson, and now they’ll need to spend at least the league minimum on another player, as the Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle notes.

With all this, it’s still way too early for Leafs fans to condemn the Clarkson signing, but his instinct to defend his teammates really backs his new franchise deeper into a corner.

In the likely event that the NHL follows through on a suspension, that is.


Sabres, Leafs line brawl erupts

Paul Bissonnette received a 10-game suspension for leaving the bench to fight, too

* – H/T to James Mirtle and Cap Geek for that tidbit.

  1. 3yardsandacloud - Sep 22, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    He was definitely in the wrong, but you can’t blame him for protecting his “star”. What business does John Scott have trying to fight Kessel?

    • hockey412 - Sep 23, 2013 at 8:52 AM

      Agreed…it was a puke move by Buffalo.

      When you think about the ‘third man in’ rules, Toronto could get into all kinds of trouble based on cloudy interpretation of the rules…but this mess was on Buffalo. I hope Shanahan sees it that way at least. Let’s not protect or encourage Scott’s actions in this crap.

      • dropthepuckeh - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:06 AM

        Totally agree, if there is a way for Shanahan to take into account what was going on at the time you hope he can soften the blow a little. I’m guessing he can’t though as he will be called out for having different rules for different players etc. I think Scott and Sabres coach Rolston should be suspended for starting this mess. No matter what happens on the ice you cannot have the brawlers jumping skill players like Kessel. What happens when these guys play again – the Leafs are going to feel the need to respond. There is a code for this stuff and Scott and Rolston broke the code, plain and simple. Now the media is going to jump on this episode and use it as a example as to why hockey needs to wipe out fighting etc. Normally I would say they are crazy but if this is what is going to be happening, with brawlers jumping first line guys with no fighting experience, then I think they might have a case.

        At the end of the day I have no problem with Clarkson doing what he did. He was protecting his teammate and while it may hurt the team when he is suspended, it will bring them closer together in what is a long season. Weak move by the Sabres.

  2. martysbetter - Sep 22, 2013 at 10:39 PM

    Leafs fans, meet “Clarktard”

    • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Sep 22, 2013 at 11:13 PM

      He did the right thing. Better to lose Clarkson for 10 games than to lose Kessel indefinitely to an injury, letting Scott have his way with him. When Clarkson comes back he’ll still be healthy and ready to go. Scott’s intent was to do what Devane did to Tropp, to Kessel.

      John Scott will have a meeting with some WAY bigger, WAY tougher Leafs than Kessel the next time these two teams meet.

      • cramshawbar - Sep 23, 2013 at 6:49 AM

        At what point did it ever look like Scott was really going to pummel Kessel? And by the time Clarkson got on the ice, the Scott-Kessel situation has subsided. Everyone was fighting other people.

      • sabatimus - Sep 23, 2013 at 7:42 AM

        I understand going to the defense of your teammate, particularly in this instance, but Clarkson probably just cost his team his services for a good while. And a different Leaf had intercepted Scott before Clarkson left the bench.

      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:00 AM

        Cram, the people who stopped Scott initially weren’t fighters at all. There was no enforcer on the ice for Toronto. Devane was already in the box. Clarkson was standing up for more than just Kessel.

        Sab, I know what Clarkson did, It won’t cost the team that much. They have guys who can fill in for 10 games. It’s just Clarkson, Kulemin or Bolland can fill in on the 2nd line.

    • nj666 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:35 AM

      Thats a dumb thing to say. He was a great devil and never left on bad terms.

  3. Lupy Nazty Philthy - Sep 22, 2013 at 11:01 PM

    Clarkson did the right thing. Total bush league move by Scott going after Kessel in a preseason game. I guess Scott goes after the easier targets after Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren embarrassed him last year. Should be interesting to see what happens the next time these two teams meet.

    10 games without Clarkson won’t be the end of the world. It’s only 10 games. Colborne’s ready to play. Bolland or Kulemin can play the 2nd line RW while Clarkson’s out. Could give some prospects a chance to play a few games too. Leafs will manage.

    • pizzaman77 - Sep 23, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      Laughable how Leafs fans seem to justify Clarkson coming off the bench. There were 4 other Leaf players on the ice handling the situation along with officials.

      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Sep 23, 2013 at 8:16 PM

        Please, None of those four players were enforcers. Bozak, Brennan, Ashton and MacWilliams. The only enforcer other than Clarkson was Devane who was already in the box.

        It’s laughable that Buffalo fans are this oblivious to how bush league their team is. Pulling this crap in a preseason game? The Pegula era is a joke so far.

  4. earpaniac - Sep 23, 2013 at 1:36 AM

    I understand why he left the bench, and I would’ve probably myself, but you have to be smarter than that. I’m sure if you told the Leafs this summer that their big free agent signing wouldn’t be available to them for 1/8 of the season because of preseason, they wouldn’t be exactly pleased. But like I said, I get why he did it.

  5. steelers88 - Sep 23, 2013 at 3:48 AM

    In a 82 game season that’s not that big of a suspension.

    • sabatimus - Sep 23, 2013 at 7:44 AM

      12% of a season seems pretty long to me.

      • dropthepuckeh - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:10 AM

        If your intention is to go deep into the playoffs then 10 games of the regular season is not that big a deal and may bring the team together in ways that ultimately help them more in the long run. The real season begins in April.

      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:05 AM

        Losing a guy like Clarkson would hurt a team like Buffalo who has no one worth calling up, but the Leaf have plenty of guys who can fill in. Colborne is already looking for a roster spot. One just became available for 10 games.

  6. canadianguest - Sep 23, 2013 at 4:16 AM

    New meaning to the term “Homer” in hockey. Clarkson was reported to have muttered, “stupid rules” after being told of the imminent suspension.

    • sabatimus - Sep 23, 2013 at 7:43 AM

      Where is this report?

      • canadianguest - Sep 24, 2013 at 9:15 AM

        I’m surprised a Simpsons joke was too complex here, lol.

  7. buffalo65 - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:23 AM

    Justify Kessel swinging his stick out of fear all you want, why did he come back and poke Scott after with his stick? Cowardly act.
    Scott and Orr can fight next game and people will continue to laugh at hockey allowing untalented guys play so they can fight.

    • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      6’8 Scott going after Kessel in the first place was a cowardly act. Orr does more than just fight too, he’s a true enforcer. Scott is a useless goon. Scott broke the enforcer code. He’ll be lucky if Buffalo even uses him again. He belongs in a bush league, not the NHL.

    • dueman - Sep 23, 2013 at 12:14 PM

      Kessel gave Scott a LITTLE poke after to tell him what a goof he was, and that was all. You are the one that’s trying to make some kind of justification. Your team is full of pukes…Ott shooting the puck at Phaneuf the night before, Scott last night going after a teams star player, that’s 80 pounds lighter than him, and if you have seen more than one Buffalo game, than I don’t even have to mention Kaleta. Give me a break. You can give yourself thumbs up all day long and it won’t change the fact that Scott’s ECHL move last night was completely moronic to say the least!

  8. 950003cups - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    Clarkie!!!!!! Miss you in NJ!!!

    • nj666 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:37 AM

      He was great in NJ but something like this doesn’t make still wish he was on the team.

  9. stakex - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    It might be understandable why Clarkson did what he did, but it was still a dumb move.

    You simply cannot leave the bench, no matter what is happening on the ice. A guy attacked your star? Let the other guys on the ice handle it, and you can always get your own payback sometime later. Not to mention that in this case, its not as though Clarkson jumped off the bench to defend Kessel right away… he actually waited till after the line brawl had pretty much ended, which makes even less sense and shows it wasn’t a spontaneous choice.

    Also, as the article points out, the Leafs are already up against the Cap and trying to re-sign Franson… and now they will have $5.25 million in dead cap space for 10 games. That’s not the end of the world, but it’s a pretty serious problem none the less.

    • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Sep 23, 2013 at 8:19 PM

      In a regular fight, i’d agree, but Scott was out to injure someone. He’s a knuckle-dragging ogre who thinks Kessel is fair payback because Tropp bit off more than he could chew picking a fight with Devane.

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