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Clarkson on struggles: ‘There’s no way I’m happy’

Jan 12, 2014, 8:47 PM EDT

clarksongetty Getty Images

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.

  1. 950003cups - Jan 12, 2014 at 8:56 PM

    Come home! We need you. Toronto has to eat some of that cap, and I’ll send you a limo.

  2. lowenni - Jan 12, 2014 at 9:25 PM

    He may end up being a useful player up in Toronto, and for all we know he could even score 30 goals again if used in the right role. The problem is that he’s always going to have the weight of that huge contract on his shoulders, and every mistake he mistakes will always be under the microscope because of that. Four years from now he probably just isn’t going to be the impact player he is now, but I guess Nonis really wanted him signed for the next two years or so and that was the contract he had to give him. Potential buyout candidate.

    • PhillySN - Jan 12, 2014 at 10:08 PM

      Toronto can’t buy him out unless they take his cap hit along with it. They already used both compliance buyouts

      • bsaures - Jan 12, 2014 at 10:38 PM

        He will end up like Tucker being paid by the leafs not to play 6 years after his last game

      • 19to77 - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:04 AM

        So basically a much less skilled Alexei Yashin?

  3. stcrowe - Jan 12, 2014 at 11:49 PM

    Clarkson is a good role player. I don’t know why “Leafs Nation” developed such an inflated sense of his abilities during the summer. He scored 30 goals in one season, but he averages 15 goals a year, and had never made it to 50 points in a season.

    He is a good guy to have on your team, but he is now massively overpaid. That’s not his fault.

    • 19to77 - Jan 13, 2014 at 1:05 AM

      Yeah, but it’s easier to buy out an overpaid waste of space than sack a GM. Tragic, but it’s true. Nonis and Carlyle should both go way before Clarkson (absurdly overpaid as he is), but that’s unfortunately not the way it works.

    • dueman - Jan 13, 2014 at 10:29 AM

      “Leafs Nation” has never “had an inflated sense of his abilities!” Don’t confuse what the moronic media, and the haters say, with what us Leaf fans actually believe. Every Leaf fan that I know (and know a lot) knew we were getting a solid role guy, and not a goal scoring machine. Also when did 5 million become a “massive contract?” Wait till this summer, then you’ll see massive contracts!

  4. bruins4ever - Jan 13, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    Dueman: the 5.25 million is bad enough, but for 7 years, now that is just stupid. What will Clarkson be in the last 3-4 years, do you think he is going to improve any!!

  5. jimhockey - Jan 13, 2014 at 9:46 PM

    $5 Million is a massive contract for a person who scores as little as Clarkson does, unless you can also play goalie – well. He always played his best games of the year – by far – when he played in front of his 50 friends and family in Toronto, so much so that the Devils announcers would always joke about it with him. That MUST have given Toronto’s management the false impression that he always played that well, no matter how much they claim that they knew he wasn’t really a 30-goal scorer. It’s not that he’s not a decent role player. It’s just that you could have gotten him for a fraction of what you paid. He would have signed with the Leafs for minimum wage and a Tim Horton’s gift card and still been the happiest man in the world.

    • stcrowe - Jan 14, 2014 at 3:47 PM

      Coincidentally, minimum wage and a Tim Horton’s gift card was what Eugene Melnyk offered him to sign with the Senators. Clarkson balked when Melnyk wouldn’t go higher than a $10.00 gift card.

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